What you can’t see in the Versace runway pictures is the massive domed space in which the show took place, its sprawling floor covered entirely in multi-coloured stripes that echoed the 1970s (but zingy) palette and patterns of the collection. And what you can’t hear is the hypnotising soundtrack “Queen of this Shit” by Quay Dash, shazammed in sync by show-goers. Versace is a comprehensive experience: a world, a woman, a feeling. And sometimes you need the context to fully comprehend it. Donatella Versace wasn’t in the mood for previews or backstage banter. Instead, she released show notes that, if read by Prince, would easily have echoed the staccato “Dearly beloved” sermon in “Let’s Go Crazy”. “She is always THAT woman. The one who is never afraid.” Etcetera.
Narratives aside, then, the show was essentially a confirmation of the Versace woman of whom Donatella so often speaks. You had your Gigis, Bellas and Kendalls, Kaias, Binxes and Aduts, and the guest appearances, who underline Donatella’s everywoman ethos: Freja Beha Erichsen, Mariacarla Boscono and a beaming Shalom Harlow, who closed the show. In speedy formation, they looked like the scrubbed-up take on 1970s aftermath hippies, swathed in a patchwork of clashing prints, floral flounces, flares and bandanas. Donatella ticked the gypsy girl box, which has travelled with us this season from New York over London and now to Milan. If it didn’t feel like obvious Versace territory, she filtered in a few near-neon dresses worn with trainers to spice things up.
Exiting the building, guests talked about Shalom, about the space, about that soundtrack. This one was for the girls, the Versace girls: a sort of effortless flex of the muscle by Donatella Versace, who sometimes puts on a retrospective supermodel spectacular and a press conference, and sometimes chooses simply to validate her brand with an unassuming (for her) presentation like this, business as usual. Either which way, those girls were having a good time.