For all the figure-hugging her dresses have done, it was a surprise to learn that Donatella Versace has never used bias cutting before. It's such an effective way to embrace the body in a sinuous swathe of fabric, which means it offered an ideal solution to DV's search for sensual movement in her new Versace collection. It made even more sense because she was working in already slinky silk and satin. And she emphasized the diagonal still further with fluttering asymmetrical hems and aerated seams.
This was daywear, mind you. There were only four evening dresses on show—bias-cut, naturally, intersected by those slashed seams. Very straightforward, bar what looked like the Lord Mayor of London's ornate chain of office slung across them. Donatella felt that she dealt with evening effectively in her couture collection, so she wanted to focus elsewhere. But Donatella by day is not your usual quotidian proposition. In the slipstream of bias-cut newness, she took up two intense colors she'd not used previously: petrol blue and a vivid red. Those tones aren't used to the bright light of high noon, so they were most striking in their more extreme incarnations, as a mink coat with military buttons and a big sweep of alpaca.
The military buttons were actually more toy soldier, like the glittery epaulets that were another decorative detail. Maybe it was Guido Palau's swinging Julie Christie hairdos that cued the feeling, but the lean, long, buttoned jackets and pants (the show notes referred to them as "parade uniforms") had an echo of the mid-sixties London mood that's been bubbling under all season. But that echo lasted as long as it took Donatella to unleash one of her hyper-embellished, studded, latticed, fringed micro-sheaths on the catwalk. "Made in Italy," she reminded us backstage. She's been feeling that the imprimatur is supposed to imply the last word in luxury, but not enough people take it at its word. So she generously stepped up to the plate with a trio of those micro-sheaths to offer idiosyncratic proof of what Italian craftsmanship is capable of producing. And if they weren't enough, there were some extraordinary thigh-high boots as backup. For day, remember.