LOS ANGELES – Decamping from her usual base in Milan to show her wares in Los Angeles — only three days before the Oscars — Donatella Versace says she was inspired by the energy, glamour and power of Hollywood. She had plenty of that, but she needed one more thing to make it all work: good weather.
And so, with rain expected on Friday, Versace was forced to move her show ahead by a day. It may have been chaotic, but it was the right move. Her star-studded runway show Thursday took place on a cool but gorgeous Los Angeles evening on a spectacular rooftop overlooking the snow-capped San Gabriel mountains, sleek downtown skyscrapers and the Hollywood hills.
Oh, and daylight ceded to darkness right as the show ended — just in time to turn on the floodlights, blast “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince and head to cocktails.
The sun was still out when the crowd began making its way up to the roof of the imposing Pacific Design Center on Melrose Avenue, with its distinctive blue glass exterior. Guests jostled to be photographed with the stunning view behind them, and staffers warned them not to step too far backward and fall off the building.
As for the stars, they were on the runway and in the audience.
Naomi Campbell, Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski and Irina Shayk strutted the catwalk, in front of a cross-section of notable names from music, film, fashion, sports and beyond.
Causing the most excited stir was Cher, who showed up alongside fellow music luminaries Elton John, Dua Lipa, Miley Cyrus, Lil Nas X and others. From cinema, there were no less than two best supporting actress Oscar winners — Ariana DeBose and Anne Hathaway — plus a favorite for best supporting actor this year, Ke Huy Quan. Former NBA star Dwyane Wade was there with Gabrielle Union. Jeff Bezos, Channing Tatum, Paris Hilton, Pamela Anderson and Lily James (who played Anderson in a Hulu series) were among other notable names.
In creating her 2023 fall-winter line, Versace harked back to a 1995 collection of Atelier Versace, the label’s couture line, with a campaign starring Madonna. Color choices began with black and included caramel and chocolate, as well as apricot, turquoise and pink. Prints included an animal print from the Versace archive and a falling flower motif.
Gigi Hadid opened the show in a black hourglass jacket and knee-length pencil skirt, a sleek tailored look that gradually segued to more glittery ensembles (she reappeared later in a flowing gown with sheer bodice and sleeves). Campbell came later, in a stunning black gown with elbow-length gloves.
After a cascade of black outfits for both women and men, a sudden burst of bright pink surfaced, in a wool cropped jacket and miniskirt, then a minidress in a tangerine hue. More than halfway through the show came the luxurious, satiny printed dresses — often minis, and accompanied by those elbow-length gloves for added glamour.
Streetwear was nowhere to be seen — this was about luxury — and the long gloves seemed to evoke the Golden Age of Hollywood, which began in the mid-1920s and continued for several decades. Paired with the up-to-there minis, and often accessorized with big sunglasses, the effect was to create what Versace described as “energy from clashing Golden Age glamour with contemporary attitude, and confident power."
How confident? The designer has called this collection a form of armor. As for Los Angeles, Versace has called it “a natural home for us" — a place that makes her feel free and close to nature.
Los Angeles is also, of course, a city of stars — and never more than during Oscar week. The moments before the show felt like a dry run for the Oscars red (or this year, champagne-colored) carpet, with celebrities reuniting or meeting for the first time.
Lipa was shown on social media meeting and sitting next to Cher. Wade, in an orange suit, chatted with DeBose, who wore a see-through fishnet number. And one set of stars seemed particularly thrilled to be meeting: Quan, of “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” and Hathaway, who each expressed their fandom for the other.
“I’m fainting!” Hathaway said when she laid eyes on Quan. “Everyone is so happy for you!”
Quan replied: “I love you so much."