A Woman’s man, courtesy of Donatella and Jil
Could any women have more differing views of man than Donatella Versace and Jil Sander? On the one hand you have Sander’s stripped back, purist vision, focussed on cut, fabric, minute construction details. On the other you have… well, you have Donatella Versace. And Versace has become a byword for excess, extravagance and taste pushing at the boundaries of questionable. It’s the cherry on top of the cake, on top of the 24-carat gilded Rosenthal china and crystal Medusa-encrusted cake stand. Possibly balanced on the well-oiled trunk of a buffed lothario.
That scenario is pretty much what Donatella Versace’s name evokes in contemporary imagination. She herself is not only aware of it, but plays it to the back of the hall. This season, she opened with a phallic phalanx of godlike permatanned he-men – her watchwords were “Athletic, discipline, freedom” – and then ricocheted us around the Versace archives, and via a gymnasium. The ‘athletic’ idea was evoked in Medusa-buckled posing pouches (I guess that counts for “freedom” too) and wrestlers’ sticky-tape plastered across bodies specially depilated for the occasion. In the grand Versace tradition, it was a hell of a ride. But there was a realism to the baroque-patterned denims (which have been Versace best-sellers over three decades now), a covetability to the Medusa-studded totes and sandals, and a sense of fun to the rest of it, including colour-swiped sweatshirting teamed with tanga briefs. And those sticker-taped bodies find a parallel in JW Anderson’s innovative re-application of the Versus logo as nipple pastie. Maybe a new house code?
The codes of Jil Sander and a reflective, reductive modernism. She has a lot to say, but does so concisely. This season her abstract concept was “The accidental tourist”. Ambiguous, definitely, but there was a tourist feel to the wide-legged, easy culotte shorts Sander proposed with her square cut jackets, the front falling slightly away from the body. Bands of vibrant, virulent fluorescent pink and tangerine were inset into white shirting, which was also cut square and pround of the body, layered like loose hospital scrubs. It was easy and relatable. It didn’t push you too far – it was very similar, in fact, to her debut collection heading her own label a year ago, peopled as that was with wide-legged shorts and tailored jackets. They have a uniform quality that, somehow, is appealing. It feels like a system of dressing that works. No muss, no fuss.
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