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You could feel the murmurs growing to an excited buzz as phones shot up in the air: That was indeed Shalom Harlow closing Donatella Versace’s Spring 2019 show Friday evening, and by the time she rounded the second corner of the massive square runway at the Palazzo Della Scintelle, the buzz had escalated to shouts and applause.
Donatella excels at populating her runway with supermodel surprises — her tribute collection for brother Gianni almost exactly one year ago, with a finale featuring Carla Bruni, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen, is sure to rank among the brand’s most iconic moments.
Harlow closing this latest collection was a less overt reminder of those high-wattage Gianni Versace days, but with Liya Kebede, Anja Rubik, Natasha Poly, Mariacarla Boscono and Freja Beha Erichsen also on the runway, Donatella once again proved she can amp up the drama beyond the clothes. Kaia Gerber, Bella and Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski also walked the show, but come on, we see you ladies all the time. Watching Shalom & Co. was like revisiting with old friends.
All those boldfaced names didn’t overshadow the bold print treatments in the collection, as Donatella focused on the artful mismatch, of plaids and stripes in primary hues or a melange of sheer floral prints to craft an asymmetrically draped dress. This was a show admittedly heavy on styling for some looks — the mix of wrapped and draped prints paired with sheer floral tights, a headscarf in yet another print, and mismatched floral earrings. But for the occasional breather there were leather pieces in solid tones, like the neon-green one-shoulder minidress worn by Bella Hadid, paired with sneakers as a nod to street style’s omnipresent influence.
The Versace logo pieces, meanwhile, are sure to quickly gain traction, especially the nutmeg-toned T-shirt Gerber wore under a menswear-inspired suit of red and blue plaid — Donatella wore the same shirt when taking her bow. Versace also keeps the see-through tote trend moving forward with a handful of tinted styles prominently embellished with the logo.
After all, the House of Versace has never been shy about a go-big-or-go-home moment. “When I first tried it on, I was thinking it’s not something I would normally wear,” said Luke Evans of the classic black and gold Barocco-print silk shirt he was wearing (Rita Ora and Nicki Minaj, in the glammed-up tartans of Donatella’s Fall 2018 collection, were seated nearby).
Evans just wrapped filming Murder Mystery in Milan and Como with Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler, and while he’s a veteran of Milan Fashion Week, he said, Donatella’s was the only show he planned to attend this week. “I think of Versace as being a very brave brand, and I never really thought of myself as a brave person when it came to fashion,” Evans added. “But when I put this on, I thought, ‘I could get used to this.'”
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