versace's army of feminist fun
On the third day of Milan, Donatella Versace took fashion's feminist movement to an ultimate level of fun.
Over the past year, the huge waves of feminism currently flowing through fashion have been dealt with continuously on the pages of this magazine, both real and digital. So much so that when Donatella Versace put on a show to an all-female cover of UR's Transition made for International Women's Day and dressed the biggest models in the world in Versace camouflage like she did on Friday night in Milan, feminism is no longer a theme in a collection but a foundation to everything she and her house stand for—just like it's the core of the entire industry, you would hope. After feminism has taken over fashion, the real change for women comes when designers actively start designing womenswear that makes life better, easier, and more fun than it was in the dark ages. That's exactly what Donatella Versace did this season—and if it sounds cheesy, it was far from.
"It's the women of real life," the house matriarch said backstage, while a tall Heidi Klum, that wholesome paragon of health, hovered behind her. "It's a woman more human, less put together," Donatella explained. They were brave words at a house trademarked by its put-togetherness: think of Versace and perfect hair, makeup and styling are a given. They were, too, on Donatella's feminist warzone runway, but it was in the ease of the collection that her statement came through loud and clear. These were unfussy garments, made for that modern everyday life where 'effortless' is a virtue and women like to 'pop' in and out of dresses, as Victoria Beckham once described it to yours truly, as opposed to being cinched into them Scarlett O'Hara style, figuratively speaking at least.
Another big sentiment was fun, as we saw it on the London runways earlier in the week, only a lot more fun since it was Versace and all. Departing with her runway space at the Versace building on Via Gesu, Donatella moved her show to a hangar on the outskirts of Milan normally used by Ermenegildo Zegna at the men's shows, instantly changing the Versace vibe from intimate sexiness to a bold and powerful atmosphere, models walking grandly around the enormous space in all their camouflage like the hottest army in the world. Why the change of venue? "Because I felt too safe there. It's my house. I wanted to do something strong and powerful," Donatella said. Backed up by that spoken-word track about female empowerment, the space created a camp club atmosphere that added to the sense of fun.
Those fierce and ferocious takes on feminism that walked the runways last season and the season before were a protest necessary for cementing a statement. In their aftermath, fashion's neo-feminism can allow itself to focus on something as frivolous as fun, because getting to that feel-good factor is basically what the fight is all about. There's a real sense amongst show-goers this season of accepting the fun, kicking back and going with the flow, and Donatella captured that to perfection. "Always fun," she smiled. "Never forget that."
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Jason Lloyd-Evans