I can exactly say where it all started from and I can still see myself, in the late Seventies, flipping through the pages of Vogue Italia and staring at those incredible chain-mail dresses. The passion I have for everything Versace has been a part of me since my childhood. Glamour, celebrities, exotic settings, supermodels: all this is Versace for me and will always be. For this reason, I love checking the Medusa’s new collections, especially the Haute Couture ones, and I am so proud of Donatella’s work when I see some celebrities stepping on the red carpet wearing one of those amazing dresses.
The Atelier Versace collection for spring 2009 is to die for: long and short dresses are made of luxurious materials (silk organza, silk chiffon, satin, georgette), in a colour range that goes from China red to fuchsia, from aqua green to smokey grey, including – of course – black and white. I love the way some of these dream-like dresses are built, so as to look like small architectures, thanks to the use of boned piping and pleating.
This evening gown, for example, reminds me of sea-foam: made of satin and silk organza, it has a bow motif on the bust which retains a multitude of pleats, forming the volume at the back of the dress. The pleating on the skirt is a work of art and, as such, makes me think of Botticelli’s masterpiece, The Birth of Venus, both for the waves’ movement and the scalloped shell where Venus stands.
The pleating on this other dress is similar to the previous, with some notable differences: this one is made of aqua-green and smoky grey organza and large circles embroider the asymmetrical volume of the bustier. The ‘water’ theme is visible in this case, too, in the wavy decorations on the bust.
Another leit motiv in the collection is the reference to Nature, to flowers and plants. This gown is made of purplish/smokey grey silk organza: crinoline and crystal mesh tubes out line the body and fall to gather the volume of the dress, creating ruffles in petal shapes. The crystal mesh tubes can be seen in detail in the sketch on the right.
This is one of the most striking pieces of the whole collection, both for its colour (a rich China red) and for its shape . Pleated bands define the shape of the strapless bustier and form the edges of each ruffle on the skirt. The ruffled train is pure perfection and makes it even more outstanding. This dress is like an exotic flower, precious but difficult to pull off. I wonder who will be the first to sport it on the red carpet.
This is another dress which draws inspiration from Nature: it’s made of silk chiffon, with purple crinoline bands defining each ruffle of the skirt and creating a dramatic bow motif on the shoulder. Doesn’t it look like a bouganville in a dress form?
Versace’s style has always been a symbol of luxury, but it is also known for its sexy side (just think of the infamous punk – and revealing – dress worn by Elizabeth Hurley in 1994, a dress which probably represents Versace’s vision of fashion at its best). Sexy, for Versace, often means ‘short’, so some short dresses have been included in the collection, probably for the younger audience of the brand.
This bubble-shaped minidress is amazing: entirely embroidered in lacquered China red sequins, it’s strapless and looks like the scented explosion of a rose in bloom.
Though equally short, this other minidress is much more complex than the previous one: the skirt is cage-shaped and is made of gold silk tulle. The bodice is embroidered with handpainted feathers and metallic sequins.
This black silk organza dress declines in short the theme of the ruffles, seen in some of the previous dresses: crinoline bands of crystal mesh curve around the bust forming the straps, while large folds open out on the skirt to form the volume. The graphic crossing on the bust can be considered a homage to the Fetish collection Gianni Versace designed in the late Eighties.
The fan is yet another recurring theme in the collection. This fuchsia pink silk organza minidress is characterized by a pleated effect which alternates opaque and transparent and open out in a 3D effect. Just take a look at the sketch on the right to fully understanding the three-dimensional quality of the fans. I also love the detail of the asymmetric folding on the back of the bustier.
This is, of course, the longer version (in black) of the fuchsia pink minidress. The 3D effect of the organza fans can be found in the waist line, and the opaque-transparent alternation is visible in the bustier and in the skirt.
Crinoline and crystal mesh tubes can be found in this black silk chiffon and organza evening dress, too. They create the contours of the bustier, while the flowy skirt opens with a slit on the side. The model in the pic hides the strap of the dress, visible in the sketch on the right.
Versace has always loved embroideries on sheer materials (just think of the mesh dress Charlize Theron wore at the 2008 Venice Film Festival), so it’s nice to see two dresses developing this feature. They’re both made of neutral-coloured fabrics (a very classy choice, in my opinion) but are very different in their shapes.
The first is made of antique rose silk tulle and georgette and presents the cage shape we have already seen in the gold short dress. Micro draping forms the bodice, while boned piping retains the shape to create the skirt. It is entirely embroidered in crystals with a degrade effect. The bodice is strapless and opens on the back.
The second is very sexy and revealing without being trashy: it’s made of nude coloured demi-sheer fabric and entirely embroidered with transparent sequins and crystals in a degrade effect. It has a deep neckline and is widely opened on the back.
The last dress stands out in the collection because it’s the only white dress and the only which has been already worn by a celebrity. Penelope Cruz wore it at the Vanity Fair party after the 2009 Academy Awards. It’s a shame she chose it only for a party and not for the big event, because she looks much better with this dress on than with the vintage bride-ish Balmain she wore on the Academy Awards red carpet. This is a silk crepe de chine dress with a wide opening on the back; pleated bands of organza twist around the body before opening out to form the train.
I would wear all these evening gowns, had I the opportunity to step on a red carpet, but my favourite is the China red/’exotic flower’ ruffled dress. It would surely make me feel like a princess for one night only.
 Being a fashion nerd, I always set connections between designers, collections, colours and shapes. This dress, for example, reminds me of the stunning red mantle seen on the catwalk of Alexander McQueen f/w 2008 collection. It has never been worn on the red carpet (it’s clear it’s difficult to pull it off, since it’s so dramatic), but it has been featured in many editorials (in ‘The Magic of Fashion’ , published by ‘Harper’s Bazaar’ in 2008, with Emma Watson, but also in ‘The Bride Wore Black’ by Camilla Akrans, published on the 2008 August issue of ‘Vogue Nippon’ ).