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.
The Best, Most Supermodel-Filled Images from the Height of Gianni Versace’s Reign
Linda Evangelista, Versace fashion show, Rock ‘n’ Rule Benefit after party, Park Avenue Armory, New York, New York, 1992.
Beverly Peele at the 1994 F/W Versace fashion show.
Acting MTV new anchor, Cindy Crawford, interviews Claudia Schiffer during the 1991 Versace fashion show in Los Angeles.
Kate Moss struts down the runway during the 1995 S/S Versace fashion show.
Cindy Crawford attends Versace’s “Rock ‘N Rule” Fashion Show Gala to Benefit amfAR in 1992 in New York City.
Linda Evangelista at the Gianni Versace Spring 1993 show circa 1992 in Milan, Italy.
Naomi Campbell wears Versace, in the 1991 Los Angeles, California, Versace fashion show.
Cindy Crawford backstage at the 1993 s/s Versace fashion show.
(Original Caption) Kate Moss on the catwalk. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale/Sygma via Getty Images)
Naomi Campbell walks during the Versace Fall 1992 RTW runway show.
Christy Turlington walks during the Versace Fall 1992 RTW runway show.
Helena Christensen walks the runway at the Versace Haute Couture S/S 1992-1993 fashion show in January, 1992 in Paris, France.
PARIS – (FILE) Model Carla Bruni walks the catwalk at Versace High Fashion show (circa 1996) in Paris, France. According to reports, December 18, 2007 French President Nicolas Sarkozy has asked the Italian model turned pop singer to marry him. (Photo by Michel Dufour/WireImage)
Supermodel Naomi Campbell Modeling Versace Jacket during the 1992 F/W Versace show.
Cindy Crawford attends Versace’s “Rock ‘N Rule” Fashion Show Gala to Benefit amfAR on September 14, 1992 at Park Avenue Armory in New York City.
Amber Valletta walks during the 1995 Versace haute couture show in Paris.
Kate Moss models Gianni Versace’s spring collection again in 1995.
Shalom Harlow walks the runway at the Versace Haute Couture S/S 1992-1993 fashion show during the Paris Fashion Week in January, 1992 in Paris, France.
Gianni Versace, always innovating, blends transparent plastic and shimmering fabric for a futurist evening gown in his f/w 1995-1996 show.
Naomi Campbell during the 1991f/w Versace fashion show in Los Angeles.
A model presents an eclectic striped bodysuit and spencer jacket with a coordinated green-striped fantasy military cap during the S/S 1993 Versace fashion show.
Kate Moss wears Gianni Versace’s zippered bridal gown during the f/w 1995-1996 Versace fashion show.
Amber Valletta walking down the Runway at the 2000 Spring Fashion Week: Versace Fashion Show in New York City.
Carla Bruni walks the catwalk at the Versace High Fashion show in Paris, France (1993)
Yet again: Naomi Campbell walks the runway at the Versace Haute Couture 1992-1993 fashion show in Paris.
Nadja Auermann, Carla Bruni, Amber Valletta, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Shalom Harlow and Top Models wearing ” Fashion Aid Clothing ” Tee Shirts Pose at the Versace High Fashion Show at the Ritz Hotel on January 1,1994 in Paris.
Gianni Versace, takes a bow at a 1991 Los Angeles, California, fashion show.
Givenchy designer and reformed goth kid Riccardo Tisci has always had strong opinions: