This story is part of Image issue 18, “Mission,” an anthology of fantastic voyages — from L.A. to the world and back to the epicenter. Read the whole issue here.
The story of Versace’s latest collection begins on the red carpet. Cindy Crawford at the Oscars in 1991. J.Lo at the Grammys in 2000. And Halle Berry, always. But it ends — or could end — at Figaro Bistrot, downing a cheeseburger and a final gin martini after the kind of night that calls for a skintight metallic bustier gown with flower embellishments. “I think the star makes the dress, and the dress makes the star.” says Donatella Versace. “We have always said that when a great star wears your clothes, a little of that stardust rubs off on us. I really believe that.”
In L.A., everyone is a star of something or somewhere — the club, the coffee shop, your apartment complex — and while the fall-winter 2023 ready-to-wear collection was inspired by Hollywood red carpets, the pieces possess the kind of mutability it takes to travel all over the city. A structured baby doll, a cropped denim jacket over a glistening body con dress, a crocodile leather miniskirt, even a Canadian tuxedo, has what it takes to travel from downtown to West Hollywood to Venice and back on a good night.
Presented at a star-studded runway show at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood on March 9, just days before the Oscars — attendees included Lil Nas X, Peggy Gou, Cher and Elton John in crowd, along with Naomi Campbell, Emily Ratajkowski, Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner on the runway — the clothes were meant to be seen.
Imbued with Versace’s archetypal sex appeal and power, the collection offered another layer of glossy charm with the help of chandelier tops, opera gloves and men in skirts. The city — its panoramic views at golden hour on top of one of our favorite places to pass time, the rooftop parking garage — felt like a natural background for the looks on the runway and off of it.
The draped mini dresses in gleaming coral and teal felt like something you could wear at both an awards season afterparty and a slightly bougie art affair on the Westside where the the dress code reads “iconic” and they’re serving ’shroom tea at the bar — as did the series of silky sets, dresses and shirts with floral print. The ball gowns, playful and voluminous in colors such as hot pink and electric blue with an amorphous polka dot print, are ripe for their next museum gala moment. And the chandelier dress, evoking early Hollywood, is ideal for a DYI photoshoot in a lobby like Hotel Per La’s. While multiple variations of black jackets dripping with crystals, knee-length in jacquard, cinched at the waist and protruding at the hips, are one of the collection’s most versatile staples, says Donatella. It’s easy to envision any L.A. dude wearing one of them at the next Born X Raised Sadie Hawkins, draping it over their date’s shoulders at the taco truck to cap the night.
“For me, this is a real celebration of the clothes. If you take one thing away from the show, I hope you invest in an amazing black tailored jacket. You will feel just like a star when you wear it.”
The era of mess has an outfit — what you wore the night before. Striding with pride is a quiet protest in not letting the outside world judge you based off a detail that you let them in on, like what you did last night.
You might also feel like you’ve been a part of an ongoing conversation. The collection is meant for anyone who is taking a more thoughtful step toward luxury with their style. It calls back to a Versace’s spring 1995 collection with a focus on shape: angled and curved shoulder pads, snatched waists, ballooned hips and smartly tailored separates in black, burnt orange, printed leather, even dolled-up denim.
Still, L.A. gave Versace the chance to imagine and create a new reality — what the city has been doing for so many for so long. Its first L.A. runway show in 25 years was a glimpse into a world where the fashion house’s gold-gilded past meets a future in the same vein. “We are showing what we do best,” says Donatella. “Our true DNA of beautiful luxurious clothes. ... It feels powerful and triumphant.”
Location: Hotel Per La
Models: Gisselle Hidalgo, Saye
Makeup: Selena Ruiz
Hair: Laura Dudley
Styling Assistant: Allyna Lopez