Only three days before the Oscars, Donatella Versace left her home base in Milan to exhibit her goods in Los Angeles. She claims she was motivated by Hollywood’s glitz, glitz, and power. She had plenty of that, but she still needed favorable weather to make everything work.
Versace was consequently compelled to move her show up a day because rain was predicted for Friday. Although chaotic, it was the correct choice. Her star-studded runway display Thursday took place on a stunning rooftop in Los Angeles, with a view of the Hollywood Hills, the downtown skyscrapers, and the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains.
Oh, and the performance concluded just as daylight gave way to darkness, giving us just enough time to turn on the floodlights, play Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” and leave for cocktails.
The crowd started to ascend to the roof of the imposing Pacific Design Center on Melrose Avenue with its characteristic blue glass exterior while the sun was still shining. Staff members cautioned guests against stepping too far back and falling off the building as they jostled for position in photographs with the breathtaking view in the background.
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.”