Versace Spring Summer 1997
Gianni Versace, the late 20th century’s leading fashion designer, left a legacy of haute couture and celebrity gowns. He founded his eponymous brand in 1978 and forged a vast, international company in less than twenty years. By the time of his death in 1997, Versace was the world’s most famous designer. But his life was short, and he was murdered on 15 July 1997. His murder was a riotous international press frenzy. The assassination, which was fictionalized in the movie The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, sparked an international press explosion.
The Versace Spring/Summer 1997 collection had an eclectic DIY/scrapbook aesthetic, with a collage cover and high-quality photography. The collection featured an acidic yellow carpet that ran along the runway. Models wore dresses with wraps, sheers, and flower headdresses. Some of the models wore chiffon, while others had shoulder pads and ruffles.
During the course of the show, models walked down the runway in mirrored formation. Versace commented on the role of the dress. He adorned one model’s gown with covers of Vogue magazine, and had the hair pulled back from the forehead. This experiment was the precursor to the neo-80s revival that swept the fashion world for the next half decade.
In his last collection, Gianni Versace married sacred and profane, merging his love of decoration with the change of climate in fashion. The collection was part of an exhibition called Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. It was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Unlike the previous year’s show, this one did not require models to wear a slip. Instead, many models wore oversized jewelled crosses.
Throughout the show, a sari was deconstructed. It was manipulated into separate color planes. It was then reassembled into a strident, punk finish. The garment was then encrusted with crystals and Oroton aluminum mesh.
Aside from the lookbooks, Versace’s spring summer 1997 collection was photographed by three of the top photographers of the day: Richard Avedon, Bruce Weber, and Steven Meisel. Among other supermodels, the show featured Naomi Campbell and Demi Moore. The show drew over 100,000 visitors over the course of its three-month run.
Donatella Versace became artistic director of the family company in 1997. She was born in Reggio Calabria, Southern Italy, but was raised in Milan, where she joined the family company at age 25. Initially, she was responsible for accessories and accessories for the diffusion line, Versus. Later, she was also responsible for the Versus clothing line.
After Gianni Versace’s death, his wife Donatella was appointed as artistic director. She began collaborating with other designers, and was involved in the design of the Versace Fall/Winter 2011 collection. That collection was a moving tribute to the late designer.
Donatella Versace was an avid collector of twentieth-century art, particularly Pop art. Her work is reminiscent of the graphic power of Roy Lichtenstein. One of her creations is a safety pin dress that was recreated by Lady Gaga in 2012.
Several of the Versace Fall/Winter 2011 looks were inspired by nuns’ habits. Another was a wedding dress with a veil pushed back.