Versace serves up new takes on old classics in New York

On what would have been Gianni Versace's 72nd birthday, the fashion house's Pre-Fall 2019 show sent out a visual feast featuring some of Versace's most iconic looks, reimagined for a modern era. 

Versace - Pre-Fall 2019 - New York - Via Versace/Michelle Castellani

Presenting for the first time in New York, and for the time since the brand was acquired by Michael Kors, the show took place inside the American Stock Exchange building on Trinity Place. The high-ceilinged space set the stage for a vast polished obsidian runway, anchored at the center by a massive gold, torch-wielding hand, an homage to the Statue of Liberty. 

The collection, featuring both men's and women's looks, was lush with patent leather, animal print, and golden Versace safety pins, producing a matrimony of new and old. Recognisable references to the house's greatest hits from both Gianni and Donatella abounded: down the runway went the second coming of "That Dress" worn by Elizabeth Hurley in 1994; the Barocco of fall 1991; the candy colors of spring 1992, the heart prints of spring 1997 and the plunging "JLo Dress" of 2000, all injected with a refreshed air, as the house took its first confident steps outside of Milan since showing its youth line Versus Versace in New York in 2014. 

Looks were donned by high-profile models such as Candice Swanepoel and Hailey Baldwin, as well as repeat stars from Versace's spring/summer 2019 show like Kaia Gerber, Gigi Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski.

Like the Italian approach to cuisine, Versace's newest collection extolled tradition while making calculated adjustments for a contemporary palate. This show offered everything, those looks that made audiences swoon in years gone by, to a current crowd eager for second helpings.  

According to Michael Kors (soon to be Capri Holdings) CEO John Idol, the show's change in scenery is the result of mutual respect between the designer and New York; a city that can appreciate her eclectic vision. 

"[The show's location change] was really [a result of] Donatella’s strong desire to show the collection in a different place then she had done in the past," Idol told FashionNetwork.com. "She feels at home [in New York]." 

As for future plans to travel, Idol said this is just the beginning of the fashion house's new phase of wanderlust. 

"Versace will be on the road," he said, "you’ll see us in other cities around the world.”

With that, the show's finale supported a feeling of momentum, as Versace alumni Amber Valletta made the final walk in a dress designed in rainbow-colored Love Versace hearts and a navel-grazing neckline. After her completed turn around the runway's inky perimeter, the show's cast lined up in a powerful, military-style formation; the great golden fist in the background.

The group stood for a moment before trays of champagne and medusa-shaped chocolates appeared from all sides, and the runway converted into a model-flecked dance floor. 

Celebrities in attendance such as Winnie Harlow and Tracee Ellis Ross went on to join the party, while the woman of the hour seemed content to let her work speak for itself; Donatella appearing as a flash of blonde smoke at show's finale, before quickly making her exit. 

"I wanted to pay homage to this incredible city, bringing the sartorial heritage of Milan and fusing it with the energy of New York," Donatella said in an official statement. "This collection is the result of this.”

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