Tropical J.Lo glory at Empress Donatella's show
If Milan fashion week belonged to anyone so for it has to be Donatella Versace. Donatella had old pal Jennifer Lopez tour the runway to take a final triumphant passage in her latest show, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the night the recording artist and actress wore a legendary tropical Versace dress to the Grammys.
Back in 1999, J.Lo almost caused Google to go into a meltdown when she wore the famously risqué, green silk chiffon dress cut all the way down to below her navel. Tonight in Milan, the audience was similarly ecstatic when Jenny from the Block marched around the giant show space, every one of the 600 guests on their feet cheering.
Pausing before the runway photographers’ pit, J.Lo tossed the train into the air, and swept her right thigh around at a naughty angle – the audience screaming at her every move.
In the year after she first wore the fantasy, jungle-green look, Google developers discovered that their single most popular search query was "Jennifer Lopez’s green dress." The fascination does not seemed to have dimmed: one hour after this show, there were 40 million results when one tapped in "J.Lo Versace 2020."
They often call Donatella Versace the empress of Italian fashion, and tonight the house gave the designer her own temple for this homage show.
The two-million-dollar set was a disco version of the Pantheon in Rome, built back in 125 AD, exactly mimicking the temple’s roof all the way to the coffered dome with a central oculus, or opening. The original was based on a design by Agrippa and completed by Hadrian, and the emperors would have been proud of this extravagant set. It also underlined the commitment of the house’s new owners, Capri, an investment vehicle that also owns Michael Kors, to compete with giant marques like Chanel, Vuitton or Gucci.
"This collection is dedicated to the jungle print, which we did 20 years ago. I think it was the first time that fashion inspired technology. Because there was such demand worldwide for people wanting to see that dress on Google. That’s why they were inspired to create Google Image. That makes me feel proud," Donatella told FashionNetwork.com.
Guests had to practically fight their way into the show, as several thousand fans went into an iPhone feeding frenzy outside the venue, a giant hall inside the historic Fiera di Milano.
In effect, the show opened with a series of precision cut little black dresses, all ending well up the thigh and cinched in the middle with little golden belts. Bella Hadid emoted in one version, paired with a blue and white striped prairie schoolteacher’s shirt, followed by a chic spy coat, cut with leg of mutton sleeves – a big trend here in Italy.
Abstract tortoiseshell leather coats made in peppermint and replicant denim jackets all led to the tropical fantasy finale – the print being used in ladylike blouses, rock groupie silk cocktails and one sensational metallic sequined combo finished with a semi-sheer bra and worn by Imaan Hammam. It elicited an audibly enthusiastic groan and growl from the photographers.
Then again Versace has never been, nor should ever be, a quiet brand. Its DNA is all about celebrating life; its clothes are loud and proud; its designer is an icon. And she has rarely looked happier and more in control than today. Empress Donatella is back. Eat your heart out Theodora, Agrippina and Pompeia.
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