The satanic vroom in the room launched the latest Versace collection as a paean to the biker as the new cowboy, living life on the wild frontier, outside of so-ci-e-tee. Whoops! Nothing new in that notion. Just as there wasn't much that registered as "new" in the Versace show. But it sure was a hell of a ride.
"My CEO told me I had to show a lot of product," Donatella announced, a propos of a collection that was chockfull of stuff. Most memorable: a handful of boys who were basically bare-assed in chaps, bar the skimpy, hungry-bummed bandana-printed briefs they sported. "It was a way to show underpants," Donatella merrily declared. "Male lingerie!"
That particular group looked like showboys from a Vegas review inspired by Kenneth Anger's underground biker classic Scorpio Rising. Oil-stained denims highlighted by studded codpieces might have been costumes from the same production. And, once that seed was planted, even suits with horseshoe, cactus, and sheriff's star appliqués had a glitzy campiness that screeched Vegas.
But subtlety has scarcely ever been Versace's calling card. There were so many moments of stand-up-and-be-counted over-the-topness in this collection: the red leather cowboy that looked like a New York Doll (circa the era of Malcolm McLaren's management); the bike-printed jacket and jeans that might have been lifted from a kid's duvet cover; the chinchilla hoodie…ahem, the chinchilla hoodie!
Donatella took her bow in a wrinkled white cotton blouse. Wrinkled! Cotton! "Very cowgirl," she said with a laugh. In fact, she was laughing a lot backstage, in a way that suggested a state of relaxation that is seldom allowed her by the gimlet-eyed world in which she moves. "There's a young Versace customer who is looking for these products," she insisted, eyeing the enthusiastic guys who clustered around her in their chaps. "I'm inspired by the confidence of the models."