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Rave Night at the Armory

No ordinary fashion show from Donatella Versace and J.W. Anderson

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Donatella Versace clearly wants to make some noise with Versus. Last night, her collaboration with J.W. Anderson came down the runway at the Lexington Avenue Armory between bursts of live music from hip-hop artist Angel Haze, hard-rock band Dead Sara, and electro-pop sensation (and latest Versace darling) Grimes. The glitziest musical talent in the house didn't get anywhere near a stage—or a camera, for that matter—but Lady Gaga was, several sources confirmed, somewhere on the gigantic premises.

Admittedly, the clothes had a bit of atmosphere to compete with. But Brian Atwood, for one, left looking satisfied. "Very Donatella, very Versus," he declared—and, presumably, he would know, having served as the label's designer in the nineties. "I did feel some vibe from the old archives, which was very nice to see," he said.

Here, more of the show was on display than usual. The models did their final prep inside a transparent cube, making very much a spectacle of Anderson as he appraised each one of them with a deeply furrowed brow. "I'm usually screaming backstage," Anderson said later, in the actual backstage area, but then he caught himself. "And I was here, too!" Call it, to borrow a phrase, a glass case of emotion. When Versace herself plopped down inside of the fishbowl to take in the Grimes set, a sea of camera phones spun around to greet her.

Maxwell took over as singing DJ, and The Misshapes came over to hang out with Grimes. Models—Maryna Linchuk, Alana Zimmer, Eniko Mihalik—danced, and the party was still going when the clock struck one. No one had another fashion show to dash off to, after all. When it comes to showing, not many labels out there take this radically different approach to the how and when. But as Anderson put it, "This is the house of Versace. Everything is possible."

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