ByDonatella Versace has been making headlines for months with her collection for the fast-fashion retailer H&M. Today she put the focus on the other end of her fashion spectrum: the made-to-measure AtelierVersace range, a line not seen on the Paris Couture schedule since 2004. Cameron Diaz, Diane Kruger, Abbie Cornish, and Ludivine Sagnier turned out for the occasion, taking their rightful place in front of a velvet rope that separated them from the standing crowd gathered to witness the presentation. Rightful because one of haute couture's twenty-first-century raison d'êtres is the celebrity photo op, and also because the dresses that Donatella put on display are designed strictly for the pop and flash of the red carpet. (The only off note: a rather glitzy, cheaply constructed set that didn't live up to the glamour of the moment she was channeling.)
Angelina Jolie wowed at the Golden Globes last week in a white Atelier Versace gown with a corseted waist that was made to look even tinier by the frock's arabesque of a red neckline. The dresses today followed the same general principle: second-skin tight and cut to accentuate the hourglass curves of a woman's body, only encrusted top to bottom in beads and plastic paillettes in place of Angie's shimmering satin. Here, in fact, the shapes were even more exaggerated thanks to curving gold metal insets that built up the shoulders or added inches to the hips.
The expertly realized results evoked Thierry Mugler's eighties glory days on the one hand and the movie Metropolis on the other. Backstage, Versace said, "I call them my warrior women." Fierce is putting things mildly. You can picture Diaz, with her muscled frame and newly cropped platinum bob, knocking them dead in a sparkly caution orange number, its strapless bodice outlined with a swoop of gold metal and the sequined hem giving way to delicate lace.
Amid the strict, cantilevering gowns, a one-shouldered cocktail dress had a sporty appeal. Versace also included a handful of super-short dresses topped by matching zip-front jackets, and a strapless maillot that looked retro save for its modernizing metal accents. Non-glamazons need not apply.