Atelier Versace’s Body-Sculpting Collection for Couture 2016

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Atelier Versace's aesthetic for the couture season proffered powerful, provocative clothes for women who "march to the beat of their own drums."

Just as Men’s Fashion Week came to a close, Paris ramped up for the Spring 2016 Couture collections. Kicking off the week was Atelier Versace, flexing newfound strength inside the slickly appointed interior of the Place Vendôme. At the turn of the millenium, the Versace brand found itself struggling to stay relevant finding itself nearing bankruptcy in 2004, but  years of business restructuring and digital expansion has put the brand on pace for a record-breaking 2016. In fact, in 2015, Atelier Versace, the couture wing of the brand, saw a stunning 50% leap in sales, spurned on by the house’s adaptability and courtship of a new crop of millenial models whose Instagram numbers helped boost the visibility of the brand on social media.

For Spring 2016 Couture, the ethereal goddess gowns of Fall 2015 gave way to muscular designs that balanced the year’s popular athleisure trend with deconstructed techniques and intensive hand-embroidery. Featured on the likes of Joan Smalls, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Gigi Hadid, Atelier Versace’s aesthetic for the couture season proffered powerful, provocative clothes for women who “march to the beat of their own drums.”

Atelier Versace Spring 2016 Couture
Photo: Courtesy of Gorunway

Crisp white suits launched the show, which were strapped down with exterior tangerine and lemon buckles or crossbody sashes – these elements help build athletic structure onto otherwise plain surfaces. Donatella Versace continued to sculpt shape into her slinky silhouettes with strategically placed laser cut-outs, but the most impressive design technique came from webby latticework overlays that resembled human musculature. Done in bright primary shades, these curvy lines amplified the surfaces of every gown, making them appear 3D.

The look worn by Lineisy Montero Feliz took a total of 320 hours to create, plus 150 hours to make the embroidery.

The couture handiwork of the collection was equally impressive: the hand-embroidered textures, crocheted lines, embroidered lace, and handmade stitches (comprised of Swarovski crystal mesh and hand-embroidered tubes), were accomplished over thousands of man hours. For instance, the look worn by Lineisy Montero Feliz took a total of 320 hours to create, plus 150 hours to make the embroidery. From a distance, these complex pieces resembled stained glass or the delicate etchings on butterfly wings, but up close, they were a wonderful, woven tapestry of microscopic crystals, silk, tubing, and more.

Of the more daring looks, Versace’s deconstructed dresses bound by ropes that encircled the biceps and trunks of the models (like the fiery orange mini worn by Joan Smalls), are difficult for anyone with less than a supermodel physique to pull off. As these tied-and-bound pieces were sent down the runway to close the show, Gigi Hadid suddenly appeared in a tailored black suit with its flank and bicep panels cut-out and laced together. As the finale crescendoed, Hadid’s look seemed to say, “You can be serious and seriously provocative at the same time.” For Atelier Versace, the ideas are hardly mutually exclusive.

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