The Versace show began on a triumphal note as a giant screen inside the venue relayed Italy's last-minute victory over Australia in the World Cup knockout round. When the clothes finally took to the catwalk, it was as if Donatella had anticipated her countrymen's sigh of relief. With its relaxed slouchiness and crumpled sensuality, her latest collection suggested that the designer has found a way to ease the pressure she's been under for years. Gone was the he-man structure that has long typified the house's Adonises. "No more eighties," said Donatella after the show. "Now I prefer mind over muscle."
At first glance, the new Versace man certainly came across as less hard-bodied than usual, so at ease was he in his deconstructed jacket, baggy, hip-slung trousers, tie at half-mast, and sandals. But appearances can deceive, because, in their own way, these clothes were as body-conscious as any Versace has presented in the past. As loose as the jackets seemed, they emphasized a broad, athletic shoulder. Short-sleeved shirts featured deep, chest-baring V necklines. Fine-gauge T-shirts offered their own definition.
The softness of the fabricssilks, glazed linens, washed leathersand the sun-bleached color scheme underscored the laid-back new mood. For all of that, though, there was still an undercurrent of old-school Versace glamour, visible in an inky linen parka and pants, for instance, or a silvery shawl-collared tux, also in linen, or an evening ensemble in anthracite silk.