Versace. It’s no longer a name, it’s an institution – collaborations with upcoming designers such as J.W Anderson through to Drake providing the soundtrack for the S/S 2014 show are seeing the brand return to prominence. Arguably more than any of her contemporaries, Donatella has a knack for keeping her finger on the pulse of youth culture; recently coining the term ‘Vunk’ (Versace Punk) to describe her collections, she has stated her ambition to marry fashion with wider culture. The most recent example of this hybrid came this week in the form of a collaboration with controversial musician M.I.A, the woman behind the new ‘Versus’ collection.
Renowned for her colourful, eclectic style, M.I.A naturally seems a perfect fit for the brand, especially as she is no stranger to high fashion herself (she chose, for example, to preview a megamix of her upcoming ‘Matangi’ album at a Kenzo show) and also studied at the respected Central St Martins. She is also responsible for the intelligent concept behind the collection, based around bootlegging. Speaking about her ideas in a recent interview for DAZED & Confused magazine, the singer explained “Versace designs have always been bootlegged; now it’s Versace bootlegging the bootleg for the bootleggers to bootleg the bootleg”. The quote itself might not make much sense until you actually see the collection – an amalgamation of gold chain prints, Medusa heads, oversized coins and various other ‘Versace’ emblems.
The collection, in a way, celebrates counterfeit culture – it takes the over-the-top nature of counterfeits with their splashy logos and excessive branding and mixes them with the superior quality of the real deal. Although the prints are bold, the collection stays on the right side of wearable by utilising simple silhouettes; slim-fit trousers, boxy jackets and oversized T-shirts make up the majority of the pieces.
The collaboration just serves as yet another display of Donatella’s creativity and her desire to work with young talent. One of the best things about Versace is that it no longer feels inaccessible; although it is essentially a luxury house there are now so many collaborations, diffusion ranges and high-street ranges (including the unforgettable H&M for Versace collection – one of the first major designer collaborations) that anybody can get a slice of the brand’s rich heritage and iconic prints. In essence, she is single-handedly working to unite high-end with high-street and finally starting to inspire other designers to follow in her footsteps.