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.

Versace: Constructivist Chic

Godfrey Deeny
January 14th, 2008 @ 10:05 AM - Milan

If Alexander Rodchenko had not died alone and broke after 25 years of enforced Soviet obscurity but instead left progeny, his grandson would have loved the latest Versace men’s collection staged this week in Milan.

At her post show dinner and latest men’s fragrance launch in the house's via del Gesu, Donatella told us that she was inspired by Thirties painter Tamara de Lempicka. But rather than the well bred aristos and moneyed haute bourgeois that Lempicka painted, we got Futurist artists gone clubbing on the catwalk.

If mixing Russian constructivism with Versace’s rock-n-roll sleek seems a tricky combination, that’s because it sometimes was. Versace’s design consultant Alexander Plokhov, the talented Russian designer who shuttered his own label in New York last year, made it a collection with extra long proportions – like coats that reached the ankles, ideal for a winter on the Steppes, but perhaps not for a post-Madison Square Garden concert.

Yet the modernist touches – like sequined lapels – and the sense of inventive tailoring, such as cowl like collars, did make for some eye catching looks. Above all, the show had plenty of that Versace signature product, the sexy and snappy black suit. Composed in shiny silk and wool mixes. with thin lapels and snug sleeves, they all looked like great merchandise for fall 2008.

Plus a group of rocker biker jackets in taut metalized leather or sleek shearling, would make for a great club entrance, anywhere. All told, a smart collection that carefully tweaked the Versace DNA. Call it Ver-Steppes-Sky.

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