As a TV junkie, my drug now is FX’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. (In case you’ve not seen it, it’s only into the third episode). The show has one hypnotic cocktail of a plot and character study.
There is a serial killer on the loose, you’d love the portrayal of the vibrant South Beach scene from the ’90s, the cinematography is top notch, and Penelope Cruz is superbly brilliant. Her portrayal of Donatella Versace with the peroxide blonde hair and that iconic southern Italian drawl is pure gold.
I’d describe the show is ike CSI, The Sopranos, Scandal and Marie Antoinette all rolled into one.
If you’re into gorgeous architecture and interiors, there is the gorgeous Casa Casuarina a.k.a. the Versace mansion. It’s the actual home of the designer — and where the show was shot. The sprawling Mediterranean-style home was considered the crown jewel on Miami’s Ocean Drive strip back in the day. The opening scene in the first episode showcases the glory of this prime real estate like the mosaic pool, glitzy baroque furnishings and lush tropical wallpaper prints. Explains why Donald Trump almost purchased the property for himself.
But what the show captured perfectly was just the joie de vivre and love of the feminine form that Gianni Versace had for his designs. His maximalist approach could be a foil to what fashion is today — when most designers and fashion insiders are more concerned about good taste and being safe, at the risk of looking run-of-the-mill. Also, we are living in a time when asserting your femininity and womanhood is on turbo charge. Somehow, someone decided that funereal and somber black is the perfect de facto dress code for the movement. That’s muted resistance. Gianni’s idea of championing women would make her be noticed and commanding attention.
Versace stood out with his distinctive signature: the Grecian motifs like the Medusa head, the flashy baroque patterns, the overt fetishistic influences, as well as his exploration of brash themes like rock, Pop Art, and use of materials like Oroton chain mail and plastic. One telling scene was in the second episode that depicted his last couture show a week before his death in 1997. In it, Versace was visibly agitated when he saw the bevy of waif-like models booked for the catwalk show. He was fashion’s original agent provocateur. “You dress elegant women. You dress sophisticated women. I dress sluts,” he once famously declared.
Which is why glimpses of this more-is-more oeuvre and moments of Gianni-sms in the S/S ’18’s collections could not come at a more fitting time. There is the Tribute collection that Donatella Versace put together at the house, which resurrects some of his greatest hits and prints throughout her brother’s career. While the supermodels’ reunion in the show finale stole the headlines at Milan Fashion Week last September.
But you see signs of Gianni Versace’s influence elsewhere too.
Balmain’s coat of arms on a knit dress is a throwback to a time when his Medusa logo was at the height of glamour. Meanwhile at Helmut Lang, the deconstructed S&M-inflicted collection calls to mind the seminal 1992 Bondage collection. And the plastic gear that dominate at brands like Chanel, Valentino and Toga? Mr Versace’s been there and done that — Karen Mulder wore a PVC ballgown for the Versace F/W ’95 show.
Donning silk scarf prints — something that Versace popularised — is another trend that harks back to the bourgeois cool of the time. Hermes, Celine, Dolce & Gabbana, and Tory Burch all reimagine these prints in one way or another for their Spring/Summer ’18 collections. The modern update here: The look is worn head-to-toe. Over at Tom Ford, there are mini dresses, bold colours and metallic tops, As much as they are a redux of Mr Ford’s own brand of sexy, the slinkiness and overt sensuality of it all seems to come out of the Gianni Versace playbook.
Rewinding your style to that era might not necessarily seem like the most “cool” thing right now for most women (somehow, mainstream fashion celebrates either the most intellectual of designers or the most ironic-meets-tacky of the bunch). But this in-your-face aesthetic is emblematic of the daring spirit, up-yours confidence that fashion can imbue. As Versace himself once said: “I think it’s the responsibility of a designer to try to break rules and barriers.” So why shouldn’t you?
“Gianni-fy” your wardrobe with these pieces
Like this? Off-White and Jimmy Choo create a shoe collection inspired by Princess Diana, the beautiful dog-inspired watches to own, and see what’s on the Female team’s wishlist now.