"He doesn't stop thinking and innovating," said Donatella Versace, benevolently waving a Marlboro in the direction of Christopher Kane. "He respects women and loves working with them. Look at him." Backstage before the Versus presentation at the Versace Teatro, her protégé was putting models in his stiffly pleated, bouncy organza-petticoated, peacock blue, plum, red, navy, and black satin dance dresses, and delightedly describing the frocks as "like cupcakes! I can't believe how well they turned out. The sampling they do here is amazing."
In season number two of its comeback, the Versace junior line is revving up to become a fully fledged collection. Kane and Versace conspired first to pick out some archived Bruce Weber for Versace tinted photos and secured the photographer's permission to use them on T-shirts and bags. Then Kane took the background coloration of Weber's artwork as a cue to make tonally matching looks with printed "lunch box" bags.
Marching on high laced-up velvet boots with sandaled feet, the girls, as Kane put it, looked "like little toy soldiers." Mostly, the emphasis is on young partywear, though Kane's keen to point out there are elements that are (just a shade) more casual. As he showed off the approachable young simplicity of a circle skirt—worn with a T-shirt, fluffy angora cardigan, and a pair of lace-up biker boots with silver metal-grille toe caps—his boss threw a sidelong glance and flinched congenially at the sight of the flat heels, and sighed, "Oh, don't show me them again."
Theirs is a playful creative tension that contains so many points of total agreement that it should set Versace cash registers ka-ching-ing. A case in point: the full-on black leather tailored biker jacket, with geometric indentations decorating the lapels, paired with a fiercely flirty "cupcake" skirt. The geometrics and the silhouette fully honor the heyday of Gianni Versace while also reiterating the black leather Kane presciently put in his own collection. Now that others are also sending leather-clad power women onto their runways this season, that potentially propels Versus to the forefront of the fashion conversation.