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12/07/2017

how Gianni Versace rewrote the rules of fashion

Glitz, glamour and tragedy: how Gianni Versace rewrote the rules of fashion

Gianni Versace changed fashion. Plenty of designers change fashion – a gamechanging hemline here, a much-copied dress there – but not like him. Versace transformed what fashion meant. He put fashion in the middle of a new celebrity solar system and clothes at the centre of popular culture. This change was already in the air 20 years ago, on the July morning when the 50-year-old designer was shot. But it was his murder that jolted the world into recognising how potent the name Versace had become.

Does that sound exaggerated and overblown? Even a little bit brash, maybe? I hope so, because that is precisely as it should be. That is what Versace did: he rewrote the rules of how we talk about fashion. He blew the cobwebs off haute couture, intensified the colour saturation, cranked up the volume. He turned clothes into pop. In a career that packed famous images back to back like a movie trailer, one of the key scenes was the catwalk show in 1991 in which models Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington catwalked while lipsyncing to George Michael’s Freedom. Decades before going viral was even a concept, Versace orchestrated a catwalk moment that lives on YouTube to this day. The high waistbands and tissue-layered drapes of their dresses are straight from the classical goddess playbook, but the colours – pillarbox red, sunshine yellow, black – are from a colouring book. There is a cartoonish simplicity to the image, which looks as presciently modern as an emoji-packed WhatsApp bubble.

It is impossible now to separate the horror of Versace’s murder from the bigger Versace story. The tragedy has become as much a part of the house’s origin story as Michael and the models. Versace’s death is seldom written about without the phrase “on the steps of his Miami mansion” sneaking in somewhere, glamour and tragedy intertwined. Even before his death, Versace had brought a frisson of danger into his clothes. He borrowed ideas from subcultures – safety pins from punk, spraypaint neons from urban graffiti – and put them on the red carpet and the catwalk. His Paris fashion week shows, with models in tiny dresses stalking a Perspex catwalk laid over the swimming pool of the Ritz, had become the focus of an increasingly frenzied paparazzi scrum each season.

The image from Versace’s funeral of a beautiful, bereft Princess Diana next to a weeping Elton John captures a moment in which the old establishment was being replaced by a new celebrity world order. Versace was instrumental in this shift in power; he is credited by Anna Wintour as being the first fashion designer to realise the power of having celebrities in the front row. He was among the first to fully recognise the potential of models to become significant players in the industry. He connected fashion to music in a way no designer had done before, with Prince and Jon Bon Jovi posing for ad campaigns. He was partying with Diana, Elton, Madonna, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Springsteen and Campbell many years before Taylor Swift came up with the concept of #SquadGoals. A modus operandi that was derided as vulgar by contemporaries looks now to have been ahead of its time.

From the beginning, Versace challenged snobbery. His dresses did not play by the traditional sartorial rules. There was too much print, too much glitz, too much bare skin, too much raw sexuality. The colours celebrated the raucousness of fashion at street level – and put it on the catwalk for the first time. Yet the taste level was distinctly haute. His designs were ambitious in their construction and fabrication. He pioneered dresses with panels of pliable metal mesh, a kind of glamorous, sparkling, fluid chainmail that is now a red-carpet classic. He was a skilful colourist, creating elegance out of the palette of a southern Italian gelateria. He was adept at flattering the female body, combining drapery that referenced Madame Grès with the bias cutting techniques of Vionnet.

Since Versace’s death, the house has been under the guardianship of his younger sister, Donatella. She has brought her own style, but the brand still stands, as it always did, for sex, for fun, for being at the centre of things. Fashion is entertainment: everyone knows that now. Gianni Versace made sure of it.

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03/07/2017

Ellery’s First Jewellery Line is Turning Heads

Ellery’s First Jewellery Line is Turning Heads

Being at the top of Australian fashion is one thing. Launching a jewellery line in a competitive market is another. Kym Ellery has pulled it off, foraying into accessories for her pre-fall, ready-to-wear 2017 collection.

Ellery has experienced rapid global growth, from delivering its latest collection to Hong Kong’s Lane Crawford, to securing Matches, Net-a-Porter, MyTheresa, Browns, Selfridges, L’Éclaireur, Dover Street Market (both London and New York), Maxfield and more.

The collection walks the line between form and function with accessories that are easy to layer; with the same architectural shapes as Ellery’s clothing. The pieces are inspired by Nina Simone’s big band; jewels that almost resemble brass instruments such as trumpets, saxophones and horns.

The jewellery is done in plated gold and silver, alongside mottled resins in nude, blood red and burnt orange. Pair gold tasselled earrings with one of her bell-sleeve blouses, or her sharply cut flares and you’re channelling the ’70s to big effect. Chunky hoops come in tortoise-shell and fasten in silver, alongside chokers adorned with a pearl (which would go well with any of her pearl-encrusted coats). There are spiral-coil earrings, chandelier chokers (reminiscent of the fringed coats) and simple coil rings, which are the perfect wink on the hand. Invest in jewels to brighten up your wardrobe this winter.

The jewellery collection is available to buy in Ellery stores and online.

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24/06/2017

Five Fashionable Windows

Saks Fifth Avenue Honors Amazon Shows With Five Fashionable Windows

When you’re working on a TV show that gathers buzz and a few awards since its premiere, borrowing clothes gets a lot easier: Consider the pleated black jacket Malcolm McDowell was wearing at Saks Fifth Avenue on Thursday evening. “It’s Issey Miyake,” explained Katie Riley, costume designer for Mozart in the Jungle, in which McDowell stars; the Golden Globe-winning series kicked off filming for its fourth season this week. “We’re using a few of his things this season, and he’s been very generous with us,” Riley said of the Japanese designer.

“Katie takes good care of me,” McDowell noted. “And she doesn’t like to spend money, this one. She’s very careful with her budget. I’ll say, ‘How did you get me jeans by James Perse, they’re $600!’ And she’ll say, ‘Oh, I got them on sale, 60 bucks.’ She’s brilliant.”

Riley’s work on Mozart, together with four other Amazon shows — Transparent, Patriot, The Man in the High Castle, and Z: The Beginning of Everything — have captured the spotlight in five windows at Saks Fifth Avenue’s New York flagship as part of an Emmys For Your Consideration promotion, with each display marrying costumes and production design from each series with current-season fashion. “They’re really honoring the genius of people like Katie, who do so much with so little,” McDowell said on the red carpet, which preceded a cocktail party on Saks’ second floor. The windows will be on display through Thursday, June 29.

The decision by the upscale retailer to highlight shows featuring often-unconventional storylines was an easy one, said Mark Briggs, chief creative officer for Saks Fifth Avenue. “One of the key things to understand is that we constantly try to push the boundaries and merge the retail experience with today’s lifestyle experience,” he said. “These five shows offer you something very, very different, and we wanted to mirror that. At the end of the day, the world is a very different place now, and we wanted to capture the essence of these stories within each window while showcasing both fashion and design.”

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