Versace Was the Real Star of Its A-List Los Angeles Show
There was a fair amount of pressure on Donatella Versace for her fall 2023 show—a fact she would likely agree with, and admit that she placed on herself. The designer chose to show her latest collection slightly out of cycle, just days after fashion month wrapped in Paris. But Versace promised a spectacle in the form of a return to Hollywood, a first for the brand in over 20 years. And despite the pressure, Versace pulled through—though we should have known that would be the case.
Versace is typically associated with Milan—fair, considering the label was founded in the Italian city, is based there, and shows at Milan Fashion Week every season. But Los Angeles also happens to embody Versace’s house ethos. While all major labels these days boast a roster of famous names as ambassadors and faces, there’s an innate connection between Versace and celebrity that cannot be rivaled by the star-studded campaigns of any other brand. That’s partly because Versace has included stars in their vision since the beginning, back when Gianni Versace dressed Madonna, Prince, and Elton John in 1980s. Standing in front of thousands can feel intimidating, even for the biggest rock star—what feels more powerful and reassuring than stepping onstage in a shimmering Versace gown that hugs you in all the right places?
So, when Versace announced their fall 2023 show would take place in Los Angeles on Oscars weekend, the pairing of the brand, the American city, and the timing, made sense. It all seemed pre-ordained: A star-studded front row, a beautiful Los Angeles evening, a runway filled with corseted mini dresses and lots of skin peeking through the bright fabrics.
The front row was a who’s-who of A-listers, with all the Versace regulars turning up for Donatella’s big night. Dua Lipa, Lil Nas X, Paris Hilton, and Anne Hathaway all showed out. Cher arrived with blue hair and her boyfriend in tow, Miley Cyrus snuck in the back ahead of her album release, and Elton John zoomed in on a golf cart. The star power continued on the runway, where Gigi Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, Kendall Jenner, and Naomi Campbell, and more walked in the show.
It was indeed a beautiful Los Angeles night; the darkening blue sky created a perfect, inky backdrop for the showcase. But that wasn’t a stroke of luck—the show was originally supposed to take place the following night, on Friday, but a rainy forecast forced the Versace team to push everything a day earlier. The fact that Versace was still able to pull such a guest list with the change of plans proves just how much the stars want to be involved with anything Donatella.
And then there were the clothes, likely the biggest surprise of all. Rendered almost completely in black, caramel, and chocolate with some pops of pink, apricot, and blue, the collection was one of the most sophisticated we’ve seen from the designer. Fittingly, Versace was inspired by cinema starlets of the ’50s and ’60s, as well as by the brand’s spring 1995 Versace collection and the supermodel-filled campaign shots that followed. The amalgamation of these two eras led to a chic collection of empire waist baby doll dresses, wool housecoats, and a whole lot of gloves.
Hadid, specifically, modeled two of the best looks in the collection, kicking things off with a simple suit set featuring a knee-length skirt and a structured coat—Versace’s version of the “real dressing” that has been taking this fashion month by storm. Later, she reemerged in a piece that melded the best of the two era inspirations: a drop-waist dress with a satin ball gown skirt featuring a tulle corset top and Versace’s ’95 Medusa belt. It was Linda Evangalista on top, Grace Kelly on the bottom—a sight to behold.
The collection had something for everyone. Versace purists will be more than sated with turquoise mini dresses done in draped techno twill, or sets with bustier tops. The more subdued dressers are bound to salivate over the abundance of little black dresses, each of which had a subtle addition of attitude in the form of padded shoulders, a peplum, buttons, and belts featuring the Medusa emblem originally seen in the brand’s 1995 campaign. And there was more than enough for the drama queens: opera coats, embellished suit jackets with matching culottes, faux fur stoles. The men, too, were represented in ’90s-style double-breasted jackets, caramel-colored crocodile embossed shirts, and cracklé leather suits in all colors.
But of course, Versace didn’t forget about the red carpet dresses. (How could she? They’re her bread and butter.) Silk organza floral dresses blew in the Southern Californian wind, a pink ankle-length dress decorated with three-dimensional flowers yearned to be worn by Margot Robbie on her upcoming Barbie press tour. Campbell walked in a piece heavily inspired by the brand’s ’95 collection—a black column dress with a bust covered in hand-embroidered pearls and beads. Another nude illusion dress which turned a model into a walking chandelier will undoubtedly cause some commotion among celebrity stylists.
After Versace took her bow, the guests departed, leaving the view of the snow-capped San Bernardino Mountains behind. Most of the A-list names ran off to their next event of the evening: Simone Ashley and Naomi Campbell left for the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, Miley Cyrus had an album launch to attend, Anne Hathaway headed to the Hollywood Beauty Awards, trading out one Versace dress for another. Those who stuck around were welcomed into a cocktail after party—models emerged, many still dressed in their runway looks, and danced to the sounds of Beyoncé’s Renaissance. Versace herself was nowhere in sight. We imagine she was breathing a sigh of relief that her great decampment to L.A. was a success—perhaps taking a moment to herself before jumping back into work ahead of this Sunday’s Oscars.