Finally, at the last gasp of Milan, it fell to Donatella Versace to rush to the rescue of the imminent Sunday-night Academy Awards. And who better, in a week when there was scarcely a floor-sweeping gown on a runway (unless it was made of, er, tweed)? There were no apologies for a drop-dead dress from DV, of course. There were 11 of them, in fact, with two liquid nude-colored bodice huggers running neck and neck for outstanding achievement. (Arguably, Carmen Kass won by a breast.)
The fact that Versace can turn it on like that is a surprise to no one. More of an eye-opener is how far she has moved away from the bling-vulgarity stereotype that dogged this house until a couple of years ago. Mostly, this collection was about carefully considered structureshort dresses and coats with flying volumes in the backrather than front-loaded sexiness. Some of Versace's most glamorousand on-trendcocktail dresses even hit to mid-calf (a one-shouldered draped midnight-blue number and another in a combination of matte and wet-look black were stunning).
Though most of the pieces were single-colored and unembellished, there was also a breakout of print along the way. Versace had commissioned the Dutch artist Tim Roeloffs to work on a photomontage of urban cityscapes, musclemen, dogs, Versace china, and the house ad campaigns, and then collaged the results onto violent purple, fuchsia, and yellow dresses. Result: very Versace. You couldn't help thinking the late, great Gianni would have loved it.