Versace’s Versus brings swagger to London Fashion Week

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Under low lights and with a pumping soundtrack, bright young things wearing black leather and slouchy ripped denim put some swagger into London Fashion Week, courtesy of Donatella Versace.

The Italian designer showed her diffusion line Versus in a club-like atmosphere for a typically tough and sexy collection brimming with attitude.

There were cutaway dresses exposing the shoulder and stomach, with a silver zip running down the back, and pleated and leather mini-skirts — one with the belt left provocatively open — matched with leather jackets.

Bonded mesh dresses and crop tops brought a sporty edge to the collection, which also featured cropped, zip-up bomber jackets, military-style knits and washed out ripped denim with metal and crystals sparkling underneath.

“This is about everything real. It’s about how the Versus Versace generation live their lives, and the wardrobe that gives them power,” Versace said in a press statement.

Earlier in the evening, British designer Gareth Pugh took a more conceptual approach with a show built around the narrative of an opera for which he has made the costumes, and which opened in Paris on Friday.

“Eliogabalo” tells the story of a tyrant in imperial Rome, a self-proclaimed sun god who was represented in the London show in a repeating pattern of the sun and its rays that stretched across dresses, coats and trousers.

To the sound of loud drums beating, the first model emerged with a large sun behind her head, followed by others wearing black coats with a mosaic of gold triangles arranged at the breast and hems.

– ‘Two sides of the same’ –

They were followed by unadorned, flowing gowns in vivid purple and then white, toga-style dresses, styled with lace-up leather boots and headdresses reminiscent of burnt wood.

“In one way the sun is a symbol of creation and warmth — an explosion of power and life — but it can also represent tyrannical power and destruction,” Pugh said.

“I wanted to explore that duality, to show two sides of the same, but for grace to triumph over nature.”

Saturday also saw the eagerly anticipated show by Northern Irish designer Jonathan Anderson, the creative director of Spanish fashion house Loewe who has his own label in London.

There were loose linen dresses, jumpers with oversized rolls of fabric at the sleeves and hem, and tops inspired by men’s 16th century doublets with voluminous sleeves and quilting.

But where kings such as Henry VIII had their clothes made in heavy fabrics, Anderson’s were in linen or hessian.

“I liked the idea of women wearing something that was so masculine, something that was really heavy but that is cut out of something incredibly light,” he told reporters backstage.

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