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Armani Conquers China, Chastises the Pope June 01st, 2012 @ 11:53 AM



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Versace’s High-Tech Valkyrie Heritage

Godfrey Deeny
February 24th, 2012 @ 7:48 PM - Milan

Goth met heritage, met high-tech, met chain mail in the latest runway show from Versace, a fall 2012 collection that began brilliantly but ultimately revealed this house’s difficulty in re-modeling itself for our century’s second decade.

The show, staged in the courtyard of the beautiful Versace palazzo in central Milan on the evening of Friday, Feb. 24, began with lots of pep. A black and silver regiment of powerful cool girls, wearing mélanges of guipure lace, micro chain mail and Celtic crosses.

What worked best were the cocktails in velvet or lambskin, lathered with crystal appliques crosses, which somehow recalled wrought iron railings. Cut well above the knee, and anchored by high boots - many made in woven leather made to look like fishnet stockings - they had a punchy élan that was both very dynamic and very Versace.

Flared coat dresses, finished with micro studs, lace over chiffon party dresses or a stunning astrakhan bomber with a metal breastplate all stuck the audience as path-breaking yet ideal for a club entrance.

A posh Goth mood rippled through this collection in Milan’s most theatrical season in memory.

Throughout, there was a warrior woman at play in the show, a sort of Thor princess meets downtown posh punk - best exemplified by the sexy, multi-buckle fur coats and the models' haircuts. Rock goddess fringes and pancake makeup gave the models a sexy yet stilted air, and made this collection so problematic.

The clothes were reverential to the Versace canon but not a true re-statement of the style. This was never more clear than in the finale, when the metal and leather strip inserts looked like a popular high street brand was paying homage to Versace rather than the great house itself staging its own re-invention.

A slew of print dresses featuring faux metallic lettering of the name Versace, which were then reproduced in a clever video screen that suddenly illuminated the catwalk, made for an up-tempo finale. But, ultimately, this was a modest moment for Versace, precisely, in a season of theatrical style when one would have expected a triumph.

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