Three days ahead of the 2023 Oscars, Donatella Versace showcased her Versace women’s and men’s fall-winter 2023 collections in a runway show atop the Pacific Design Center’s car park rooftop, with Instagram-worthy views of the Los Angeles skyline, on the evening of March 9.
“This collection starts from the understanding and appreciation of the body that we have always had in our heart at Versace. We applied the lessons learned in the Atelier to ready-to-wear: the construction, the tailoring, the beauty of fabric. This is a celebration of our craftsmanship and understanding of true luxury,” said Donatella Versace in a statement in the show notes.
Veteran supermodel Naomi Campbell took to the catwalk with Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski, while the Hollywood-heavy crowd of more than 500 guests included Miley Cyrus (who told THR that the show was “beautiful … really pretty!” on her way out), Cher (who chatted with Sir Elton John and was accompanied by her boyfriend Alexander Edwards), Demi Moore with daughter Rumer Willis, Jeff Bezos with Lauren Sanchez, Ariana DeBose, Lily James, Dua Lipa, Lil Nas X and Allison Williams.
“First of all, I’m excited that the show is here in L.A., it’s in our backyard,” said Dwyane Wade, who stars in Versace’s current eyewear campaign and was donning a pair of gold aviators with the gold Medusa motif from the collection while attending the show with wife Gabrielle Union. “We just got back from Paris. I’m really excited to be able to be in the campaign and get the nod from Donatella herself, and to be able to come here and be a part of the brand and experience everything. Mario Sorrenti shot the campaign and I just had to stand there. He made me look better than I do, so it was good.”
Wade said that his relationship with Versace started when he wore a white Versace suit at the 2022 Met Gala, thanks to his stylist Jason Bolden. At the NAACP Image Awards on Feb. 25, Union showed up in a colorful beaded, strapless Gianni Versace haute couture gown circa 1989, while Wade wore a black Atelier Versace suit with gold Medusa details. “I just had on all black, so I didn’t get in the way!” said Wade, smiling and clad in a peach-hued, double-breasted suit sans shirt.
“I love Donatella and it’s been a long time. I haven’t seen her I think for a decade so, like I said, I’m a dinosaur. I’m just still living the dream!” Pamela Anderson told THR, giggling as she waited for the show to begin. Pointing to her black, oversized and heavily fringed Versace jacket, she said, “This is 100 percent recycled fabric.”
There with daughters Nicky and Paris Hilton (who closed the spring-summer 2023 runway show in Milan donning a sparkly pink dress paired with fingerless gloves and a veil), Kathy Hilton told THR, “One of the first shows that I took Paris and Nicky to was Versace in Paris, and they were like 13 and 17 and it was the most beautiful show that you’ve ever seen in your life. Dutch tulips! Pink! It was just so exciting and theatrical and that really got them into loving fashion and, obviously, Versace.”
Hollywood stylist Law Roach talked to THR about “a bunch of really big Versace moments” in his career highlighted by “Zendaya a week ago at the NAACP [Image Awards] and as Joan of Arc at the Met Gala.” Roach was referencing a spring 2002 black-and-green Atelier Versace silk bustier gown with a plunging neckline, high slit and ruffled train worn by the actress on Feb. 25 and a custom, armor-like silver Versace gown with chainmail and a spike belt she wore in 2018.
“I wanted to go big and go a little bold,” said Matt Bomer, referring to the deep purple suit he was wearing, standing alongside his stylist, Warren Alfie Baker. “I have to tell you, this is one of the more comfortable things I’ve ever worn. I love the tailoring. I love the way it drapes. Versace is iconic. I’m just so happy they’re doing the show here and that we get to be a part of it.”
Anne Hathaway showed up with her stylist, Erin Walsh. Said the latter, “We’ve been talking about what a world Donatella has created and, when you look around at the people here, they look ‘Versace’ almost before themselves. It’s like you step into that armor. It’s a very specific thing. And when you put on the clothes, you feel a certain way, instantly.” The duo danced together in their seats later to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” as the show wrapped.
In terms of the fashion, Versace’s signature more-is-more aesthetic became beautifully restrained in this collection, morphing into an elegant less-is-more luxury — albeit with key house codes still in place.
Sharp structured tailoring and statement shoulders — key trends throughout the fall-winter 2023 fashion season — were given room to breathe in the form of boxy jackets, slightly oversized coats, and volumized dresses and skirts (for men and women alike). The tension between hard and soft brought balance to leggy hemlines, conical corset bustlines and sparkle aplenty. Denim was another strong suit, also in tailored and slightly roomy silhouettes, from a covetable duffel coat to creased jeans for him or her. There was truly something for everyone and every occasion.
Given the timing and location, it was no surprise that the show included a generous lineup of red carpet-ready suits and gowns. A series of dresses in slinky jersey were draped in lovely Grecian form with shoulder flourishes; others featured a splatter-like Dalmatian print or bloomed in a graphic autumnal floral pattern, also seen on men’s shirts. Gloves were paired with and transformed nearly every look, popping in colorful satin with bold bracelets and cocktail rings worn over the top or tough in glossy black leather with hardware adornment. Pointy-toe stiletto pumps and boots, chic wrap sunglasses — a Hollywood essential — and dramatic, sparkly black winged eyeliner were a few final marks of punctuation. Some dresses referenced the spring-summer 1995 collection.
After the show, Baker told THR that he was impressed by the “sophisticated and clean” look of the collection. “The lines were amazing, the collection was superb, and obviously bringing out the queen Naomi Campbell was runway heaven.”
Wearing an easygoing, double-breasted gray suit and dashing down the stairs to exit, Channing Tatum said, “It was unbelievably gorgeous; I loved the big, boxy, old-school suits she did. Amazing!”