This season, while much of Milan looked to the swinging sixties for inspiration, Donatella Versace embraced her groovy side with a seventies throwback. That meant no peace (the combative goddess fighting spirit was still present if not toned down in the form of knee-high gladiator sandal boots) but lots of love. And by love, I of course mean sex appeal. It was a kind of hippie meets hip hop, one can no doubt imagine Donatella patting herself coyly on the back once that play of words was underway. The hippie manifested in shocks of lace, tie die and a much more easy breezy spirit than we're used to channeling at the House of Versace. And the hip hop showed itself not least in the blaring hard beats of the soundtrack pounding away beneath the tented roof of Via Gesu, but also in her inability to refrain from blinging out eveningwear, tye-die though it may have been.
The opening day looks were treated heavily with lace in all its incarnations, from finely tooled to applique and heavy macrame, but elegant though the material may be, its quantity, or lack there of, was more worthy of a rapper's video rather than an uptown afternoon. There were one shouldered lace mini dresses with belted drop waists, the tiniest of lace and leather shorts riding low on hips teamed with little bandeau tops with midriffs visible beneath generously cut blazers or crushed silk tops. The opening palette dominated by a seductive black and flesh colour combination before segueing into hints of tangerine, periwinkle and shimmering silk oyster.
Descending into evening, things got a lot more interesting as Donatella spooled out her proverbial golden threads, applying shimmery fringe in bullion chain to lightweight nude silk dresses as detail, decolletage or even overlaying the frock in its entirety creating a hybrid of festival chic and hardcore bling. Tie-die bursts of floor-sweeping chiffon cinched with gypsy belts were slit all the way up the thigh or across the breast giving feminine dresses a raw hardness and dramatic sense of movement. While Donatella is at her best when she reaches for high octane glamour a la Gianni unabashed, this foray into a softer side was at least an exploration of something different, and that's nothing to snivel at.