In a tough and tender show, Donatella Versace brought her Atelier collection down to earth — if that is the way to describe a bed of 25,000 multicoloured orchids under a Perspex runway.
Donatella took the glamour, sophistication and sweetness of those flowers and made her vision of haute couture seem fresher and more approachable.
The flower headbands encasing long, loose hair had a Shakespearean, Midsummer Night’s Dream quality to them — even if this was supposed to be the Winter 2015/6 Atelier collection.
“These are strong women — wearing corsets, but with a lightness to the dresses,” said Donatella backstage, where some of the models had to be fanned and the caged corsets unpinned in the Paris heat wave.
What Donatella brought to this collection was a sophisticated version of innocence. Instead of the bad girl look — all sex and exposure — the goal was a nymph-like lightness. For alongside the exposed corsets, the back might also have straps of feathers and flowers.
Even the short dresses, often airy and lacy, had a pertness that was tempered by wafting hemlines.
The tone of the show was set by the backdrop of Versace’s signature ‘Medusa’, set with bright flowers. The shades of the runway orchids — pink, purple and yellow — dominated the collection, with some mango and leaf green added to the florals.
There was a touch of hippie-de-luxe to dresses where the skirts dissolved into fringing and feathers. But Donatella was not untrue to herself: it was her vision, softened up.
Meanwhile the lacy delicateness of the long dresses was grounded by sturdy platform shoes or boots.
This was no couture revolution. But a change of venue from a gilded Parisian palace to a simpler building emphasised the difference from the Atelier’s last collection.
And making clothes for a flower carpet instead of the red carpet brought a welcome freshness to brand Versace.