The Versace Spring 2018 show began, as many shows have lately, with Kaia Gerber, daughter of Cindy Crawford. Gigi Hadid soon followed; then, her sister Bella. A healthy dose of so-called Insta-models.
But then, for the finale, a cavalcade of supers emerged on the runway: Crawford, flanked by Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and Claudia Schiffer, closed the show, marching down the promenade at the Terrazza Triennale in Milan to the tune of George Michael’s “Freedom! ’90.” (Sadly missing were Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, and Christy Turlington, the other three-fifths of Michael’s original supermodel-filled music video.)
It would make a fitting swan song for Donatella Versace, whom many have speculated is looking to depart the brand. (Among the names circulating to succeed her have been Off-White’s Virgil Abloh, Riccardo Tisci, formerly of Givenchy, and Louis Vuitton menswear designer Kim Jones.) But Versace, apparently, is not planning on retiring any time soon, and she brought all the supermodels out of their own semi-retirements (though few among them can’t be enticed to return to the runway from time to time—Carolyn Murphy has walked several recent seasons of Michael Kors, for example, and Amber Valletta is not an infrequent sight) to help her make that statement. The five women took a lap of the runway to close the show—and then, they did it again, with Versace leading the charge.
Rather than Versace's retirement, the occasion was the 20th anniversary of the murder of her brother, Gianni Versace. The Spring 2018 runway was filled with archival patterns and playful updates on old looks; the reunion of the five supermodels—all darlings of Gianni, all wearing gold chain mail to echo a 1994 Richard Avedon-lensed campaign for the brand—was an homage to the late designer.
“Over the years I’ve seen so many homages to Gianni Versace and direct reference to Gianni Versace,” Versace told the New York Times ahead of the show. “But I didn’t have the courage to do it myself. I was always afraid to touch the work of Gianni. I thought I would be criticized: ‘She isn’t Gianni.’ I thought I was going to fail.” But Versace, now 62, took ownership of her brother’s legacy for Spring 2018, delving into the archives and emerging with a show that appeared an homage to both Gianni and the women who wore his designs. (It was hard to miss: The words “Tribute to Gianni Versace: Celebration of His Life and Works” were printed on the walls; “Gianni, we love you,” announced a voice-over during the show.)
The front row was filled with other current leading lights of the European fashion scene like Saint Laurent's Anthony Vaccarello, Gucci's Alessandro Michele, and Valentino's Pierpaolo Piccioli; at the end of the show, the three Italians leapt to their feet in applause.
Givenchy designer and reformed goth kid Riccardo Tisci has always had strong opinions: