Donatella Taps J.W. Anderson for Versus Versace’s New Direction
What started out as a pet project for Donatella Versace has blossomed into a global brand. Waaay back in 1990, Gianni Versace gave his little sister a little project to work with: Versus, a brand that flew under the radar, because it was mostly loud, garish clothes for club-going Euro partiers and their tan, bleached blonde best friends. Nobody gave the brand much thought at all until last year, that is, when Donatella resurrected the staid sub-label by appointing Christopher Kane as creative director. The result? An acclaimed collection of cool, covetable clothes that harkened back to the golden age of Versace and earned countless magazine covers and red carpet time (who can forget Jessica Alba in the collection’s standout safety-pinned dress? Diane Kruger wore the same one to Cannes later). Donatella is throwing the brand another curve this year with a new direction and new designers all chomping at the bit to get their hands on that Versace magic.
Donatella and Kane have parted ways now, but Versus continues with new Brit blood in the form of J.W. Anderson, the acclaimed designer known more for gender bending than creating go-go boots. But create them he did for his collection for Versus Versace. Under the tutelage of Donatella herself, the British wunderkind created the line’s first capsule collection, which debuted alongside Versus Versace’s main collection in New York in time for Resort collections. The dual collections are the new Versus Versace — an appointed guest designer creating a one-off collection and Donatella’s contributions to the brand, presented together as one.
For Anderson’s outing, he created looks that combined his signatures, including crop tops for men, ribbed body-conscious knits and a smattering of lace, with Versus standbys such as gold embellishments, the classic Medusa emblem and Gianni’s signature safety pins. While he keeps his collections firmly planted in black and white, the Versus Versace capsule collection let him play with colors such as pinks, yellows and electric blues, which to him seemed garish, but to Donatella, were perfect for the upcoming season. He also expanded the brand into costume jewelry and even tech accessories, including gold iPhone cases that featured tiaras and chunky chains, which he intended for men. The collection also featured lace-back knits and long tunics for men and body-conscious dresses and separates for women.
And as for Donatella, she gave new life to house staples for her half of the collaborative effort, combining zebra prints in head-to-toe animal looks and safety-pin embellished tops which came in both matte knits and shiny lurex fabrications, which she and her daughter Allegra styled together for monochrome looks that still had contrast. Her half of the collection will rotate with the coming seasons, featuring new items as well as resurrecting archival pieces from both the original Versus line as well as Versace classics.
As for Anderson? Don’t grow too attached to his collection, because next season, a new designer will take his place and Donatella will collaborate with whomever she hand-picks as his successor. But in true 21st century style, the majority of the collection will go on sale immediately after the presentation online at Versace’s Web site, with the full collection coming to stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Opening Ceremony and online at Net-a-Porter come June 15th.