Original supermodels assemble for catwalk tribute to Gianni Versace

Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Helena Christensen and Carla Bruni in Donatella Versaces Milan show

Of everything Gianni Versace gave to popular culture he invented the celebrity front row, the metal mesh cocktail dress and arguably the career of Elizabeth Hurley, who might never have found fame were it not for That Dress the supermodel is his greatest legacy. So it was a fitting tribute that a supermodel reunion was the centrepiece of the Versace show staged to mark the 20th anniversary of his murder.

Versace invented the supermodel, plucking a few chosen models from the runway ranks and elevating them to a higher strata of glamour. Other models remained humble clothes horses, but this elite became goddesses. Versace, who was already conjuring the imagery of classical goddesses with his becomingly draped dresses, created the perfect women to wear them.

Prints charming: models in signature Versace style. Photograph: Luca Bruno/AP
Donatella Versace, who took over as designer soon after her brothers sudden death, presented a blockbuster tribute show that ended with five of the original supermodels Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Helena Christensen and the former French first lady Carla Bruni taking to the catwalk together, soundtracked by George Michaels Freedom. The finale was designed to reenact one of Gianni Versaces most iconic moments from 1991, when four supermodels walked arm in arm on the runway as
George Michael sat in the front row.

As a power move at fashion week, it was sheer shock and awe. The original supers are still worshipped by the industry. But by putting five women in the spotlight on a night dedicated to her brother, Donatella Versace also ensured that the optics emphasised her brothers allegiance to women.

At a press conference before the show Donatella Versace said that the catwalk rehearsal with the star models whom she referred to as icons, rather than supermodels had been the most emotional moment of the preparations.

Gianni and Donatella Versace in New York in the 1990s: Gianni was all about joy, and so full of life. Photograph: Rose Hartman/Getty Images

But today I am not sad. I am happy that after 20 years I can finally do this with a smile on my face, she said, adding that she had been kept busy by the antics of her five stars. They have a green room each, but they are running in and out of each others rooms all day. And because they walk the runway together they are arguing about who gets to go in the middle, just like the old days.

Donatella Versace used prints from her brothers collections between 1991 and 1995 as the basis for this collection. The silhouettes are all new because the shapes from those days look dated today, she said. Except the leggings. Everyone loves the leggings again. The models like Gigi and Bella [Hadid] are always asking me where they can get the nineties Versace leggings.

She decided on his famously exuberant prints as the best homage to her brother because Gianni was all about joy, and so full of life, and the prints really express that spirit. Leopard from the Animaliercollection of 1992, Greek keys from the Baroque collection of 1991 and Marilyn screenprints from the 1991 Warhol show were revisited for this season.

Alessandro Michele of Gucci, Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino and Anthony Vaccarello of Saint Laurent were among the designers who had accepted Donatellas invitation to attend the show.

Nineties reunion. The original supermodels strike a pose. Photograph: Venturelli/WireImage

Earlier, at the Cavalli show , there was a cooler tone on a catwalk that has felt hectic in the past. Froufrou embellishments were banished in favour of lean, athletic, body-framing lines. Racer-back shapes, sporty stretch fabrics and clean, simple styling edged the brand out of the boudoir. Daywear pieces far outnumbered gowns, and most of the shoes were flat. Monochromatic zebra stripes appeared where leopard print once ruled.

Paul Surridge, the British designer now presiding over the leopard print empire that is Roberto Cavalli, is smart enough to recognise when a brand does not lend itself to intellectualising. Wearing Roberto Cavalli is to fashion what buying expensive champagne, shaking the bottle and spraying it over your friends is to wine connoisseurship.

Models wear Paul Surridges designs in Milan: there was a cooler tone on a catwalk that has felt hectic in the past. Photograph: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

In his first Cavalli show on Friday at Milan fashion week, Surridge kept faith with the brands heritage but modernised and streamlined the clothes on the runway.

It isnt intellectual its a deliberate move away from that sort of fashion, explained Surridge in a recent interview. This woman is athletic, beautiful and she doesnt want to be questioned.

Roberto Cavalli left the brand he founded two years ago, resigning from design duties and selling 90% of the company. His immediate successor, Peter Dundas, hired from fellow Milan-glam brand Pucci, lasted only three seasons. This show was the first by Surridge, who took up the job two months ago.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2017/sep/22/original-supermodels-assemble-gianni-versace-tribute-donatella-milan

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