Atelier Versace Softens Its Approach for Fall 2016 Couture

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Versace will be the first to admit that she was trying something new – something softer – for Fall 2016.

Versace is a brand that has sported a singular identity for decades: it’s the name that the elite turn to for the kind of flesh-baring stunners that are so provocative, even heads of state swivel to attention when a Versace-wearing goddess glides by. When it comes to strategy, predictability is a reliable indicator of the Versace standard, and Donatella Versace rarely deviates from the brand’s iconic aesthetic.

For Atelier Versace’s Fall 2016 Couture display, the brand’s time-tested formula was supported by a cast of both iconic and up-and-coming models, including Karen Elson, who not only joined the Versace runway for the first time in 19 years but also opened the show. However, this time around, the brand looked different than in seasons past, and Donatella Versace will be the first to admit that she was trying something new – something softer – for Fall 2016. Gone were the body-conscious restrictions of Spring 2016 Couture, which worshiped at the altar of athleisure. In their place was a surprisingly gorgeous array of lush, candy-colored gowns that had been draped, pleated, and knotted into a collection fit for the most regal among us.

Atelier Versace Fall 2016 Couture
Photo: Courtesy of Imaxtree

Open necklines, strategically placed cutouts, and single-shoulder straps are nothing new on the Versace runway, but the lovely way that the designer framed the decolletage brought to mind silver-screen starlets.

Gone were the prints of seasons past. Instead, Fall 2016 Couture was driven by color blocking found in solid slices of raspberry, crimson, lilac, and pale green, which were paired together in ways that complemented and clashed. Elson was out first, as beautiful as ever, in a cashmere blush-pink coat trimmed in grass-green silk that slipped daintily off her pale shoulder. Underneath, you could catch a glimpse of crimson frock that suggested an asymmetrical neckline. Open necklines, strategically placed cutouts, and single-shoulder straps are nothing new on the Versace runway, but the lovely way that the designer framed the decolletage brought to mind silver-screen starlets – the look was classy, polished, and grown up. Even when a frock was shrunk to miniature proportions, Versace was keen to include length in the form of superfluous panels of silk that sprouted from the hip and swept dramatically down the runway. One of the best examples of this technique is found on a glittering black long-sleeved mini dress that is wrapped at the hip by swaths of pale-blue silk, like a sweatshirt tied absentmindedly around the waist. If you’re not comfortable with such a leggy look, Versace also provided an ivory version with trousers.

The brand also demonstrated new ways to wear its refined eveningwear by pairing sequined slip dresses with relaxed cashmere jackets. Minimal decorative elements were deployed throughout the collection, and paillettes in particular were used to sublime effect on both the interior and exterior of beautiful, draped dresses. One of the strongest motifs was Versace’s powerful color pairing, which resulted in astonishing dresses comprised of lilac and raspberry or robin’s egg blue and crimson panels. Another beautiful motif was Versace’s rippling, undulating pleating that encircled bodices and waistlines in shades of muted pink, lavender, and frosty blue. These sensational dresses, which appeared toward the end of the show, called to mind soundwaves as they pulse through space, a reminder that sometimes a whisper can communicate just as effectively as a shout.

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