Glamour. Sexiness. Style. Since the late Gianni Versace (1946-1997) first sent a model down the catwalk, Versace has been combining rock & roll with fashion and red carpet va-va-voom.
As Donatella Versace (who took over at the helm of the fashion house, after her brother’s death) observed to Nicki Minaj in Interview, ‘Versace was – and still is – about the sophisticated woman who is elegant, not afraid of her own sensuality, and not afraid to dare or take risks in life’.
You can spot Versace at 30 paces. From the signature Medusa head to the baroque prints, the Greek fretwork patterns to gilded details, we can count on the fingers of one hand the fashion names that enjoy the widespread recognition that Versace does, across the globe. As Vogue comments: ‘Versace doesn’t make clothes that are avant-garde, arty or untouchably elegant; it makes clothes for red carpet photo calls in Cannes and parties aboard a rap mogul’s mega-yacht in Monaco’.
Designed to get flashbulbs popping, Versace‘s clothes have always been a natural choice for celebrities. Sean Penn wore a Versace suit for his cliff-top wedding to Madonna. Elizabeth Hurley sashayed into the London première of ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ (starring her boyfriend Hugh Grant) in a Versace safety-pin dress – which became known, simply, as ‘That Dress’.
Angelina Jolie wore Versace to the first night in Cannes for the première of ‘Inglorious Basterds’. Sarah Jessica Parker wore Versace in the final episode of ‘Sex and the City’ – and so it goes on.
And Donatella herself? As i-d.vice.com describes her: ‘Blonde hair, high heels, nipped waist, pouting lips, luxury, decadence, design, fabulousness, airplanes, Medusa, logos, gold, body beautiful, hip hop, celebrity, hotels, money, supermodels, family, Italy, cigarettes, perma-tan, parties, ultimate glamour, ultimate everything, everything in excess: too much is never enough…’
Once upon a time, Donatella Versace was the personal mannequin for her designer brother, who experimented with cutting cloth and creating clothes at home (their mother was a dressmaker). ‘She’s nuclear,’ Santo Versace once said of his feline sister. Having worked so closely with her brother, Donatella was the perfect keeper of the Versace flame, once Gianni was gone.
Today, the collections are a celebration of Versace strength – but with a new ease, energy and delivering effortless luxury. With one eye always on modern culture and what is happening on the street, denim jackets and leather jackets become ‘the new blazer’, teamed perhaps with raffia skirts – and always, always high heels, just like Donatella’s. (She claims she doesn’t own a pair of flats, except for the odd pair of sneakers.)
But since 1981, the house of Versace has been creating fragrances, too, mirroring the collections within the design house: Versace, Versus, Jeans and Jeans Couture.
We originally chose Versace Crystal Noir, for instance, from the Crystal Collection, for The Perfume Society‘s debut Discovery Box, sent out to our first 5,000 subscribers: a classic example of the Oriental category, fusing sweet and fruity top notes with exotic white florals, on a warm, sensual creamy base that almost ‘hugs’ you in its embrace. (But do also discover, explore and enjoy Bright Crystal, ‘inspired by a mixture of Donatella Versace‘s own favourite floral fragrances,’ so we’re told.)
Versace Eros fragrances – for men and for women – have joined Versace’s scented universe, created by some of the most notable ‘noses’ on the planet. Alberto Morillas, Olivier Cresp and Nathalie Lorson collaborated on Eros Pour Femme, with its fusion of lemon, bergamot, pomegranate, lemon blossom, jasmine, peony, sandalwood, Ambroxan, musk and woods. And Aurélian Guichard is behind the Oriental-woody men’s version, showcasing cedarwood, vetiver, oakmoss, warmed by flourishes of vanilla in the dry-down. With their gilded bottles and eye-catching ads (see right) – a nod to Ancient Greek mythology – they are quintessential Versace.
Serious perfumistas, meanwhile, are also seeking out the Gianni Versace Couture collection: a trio of fragrances, created with the same attention to detail as made-to-measure tailoring. Currently only to be found in only the most exclusive outlets such as Harrods and the Versace boutiques around the world, they turn the spotlight on specific ingredients: Jasmin, Violet and Tuberose, in typically opulent Versace style.
When it comes to perfume? Versace most definitively is the embodiment of glamour. Sexiness. Style. But bottled, in this case…