Pre-Fall 2023

Salvatore Dragone /

The Cannes Film Festival certainly doesn’t lack high-wattage situations, yet when glam and glitz are involved, Donatella Versace has a knack for setting the bar just a little bit higher. Proof is that she touched down amid the movie madness to launch her latest fashion collaboration, a hook-up with the British-Albanian pop star Dua Lipa. The project telegraphs that she knows pretty well how to leverage the power of über-stardom to get the Versace message across, to reach wider and cooler audiences. Lipa’s role in the upcoming Barbie movie already has the internet spiraling into a frenzy, and for the cherry on the cake, her new track for the film is on its way this coming Friday. As the saying goes, better three hours too soon than a minute too late. Timing is everything.

The see-now buy-now high-summer collection they co-designed, called La Vacanza, was presented via a private show, held at sunset in a very Versace-esque villa perched atop the hills surrounding the Cannes bay, with a view so breathtaking, a décor so vastly sumptuous, and lawns so immaculately manicured, it made you feel almost dizzy with too much fabulous information. The location came also with an impeccable cinéphile pedigree, as it was apparently here that some scenes of Hitchcock’s masterpiece To Catch A Thief were filmed.

At a press conference before the show, the two co-stars were full of praise for each other. “I’ve known Dua since the beginning of her career,” chirped Donatella. “What I saw was a super-talented young woman who projected passion, strength, and drive, truly inspiring for lots of women. And she knows about clothes.” Dua reciprocated: “Donatella really cares about how you feel in a dress, she wants to make sure that it’s right for you, it empowers you and makes you feel not only beautiful but also confident.”

Versace opened the Maison’s archives to Lipa, an opportunity that was “creatively mind-blowing” for the singer; the collection had no predetermined theme, “it was more about freedom and confidence,” she said. It actually evolved from a back-and-forth of ideas. Versace explained: “As we have a common language, it was work but also fun, and to hear a voice outside my team was so important for me as Dua represents the women of today.”

Reading Versace best-ofs through an accessible, cool lens was what the Dua-Donatella connection was ultimately about: an instantly desirable, flattering summer wardrobe, with a sassy zing and a feel-good vibe. “When the weather is nice, we want to get dressed and look cute,” summarized Lipa.

Rescued from a deep-dive into the archive, inspirations from past collections were reworked with fresh verve into new specimens. The famous metal mesh came in an updated crystal version to make it more affordable; a high-slit miniskirt with an embroidered butterfly on the back as well as a pale blue body-skimming midi dress looked as attractive and sensually liquid as their original iterations. On a similar note, the house’s 1995 butterfly and ladybugs graphics were lightened up on a black-and-white polka dot background, appearing on a pair of cropped legging with athleisure vibes, and worn with a poufed bomber and a logo-ed bandeau top, or a body-con jumpsuit with Medusa silver buckles at the straps.

Sharp tailoring, one of Versace’s hallmarks, came softened in powder pink or baby blue hues; yet miniskirt-suits came with peekaboo-slashed, figure-hugging blazers, looking alluring in the bold Versace way that both DV and Dua fully embrace. “Glamour for me rhymes with confidence, clothes are women’s weapons to say something about themselves,” the designer remarked. “Glamour is a sparkle that comes from within, it’s an energy, it’s the way you carry yourself, and clothes just help to express this energy,” chimed the singer. “That’s why I think the way Donatella represents herself to the world is so unique. She’s such a rockstar.” Judging by the way the handsome Prince Hyunjin of the K-pop super group Stray Kids was patiently waiting in line by the infinity pool to be photographed with Versace after the show, you could tell he agreed.

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