By Mehreen Kabir
By now, we all know and love Versace. But how did the brand flourish, and what were some of its most iconic designs?
Versace started with Gianni Versace in 1978. The brand aspired to create bold and opulent designs and fused art, history and fashion. It often incorporated classical and baroque elements into the designs. Some of the most iconic designs by Versace include the Bondage dress and Safety Pin dress.
Gianni and Donatella Versace, 1993
The Bondage dress embodies the bold expression of sexuality in Versace’s designs. It started off as a piece from Gianni Versace’s Fall/Winter 1992 Miss S&M collection and became an instant hit after being donned by Donatella Versace at the 1992 Met Gala.
Kaia Gerber on her 18th birthday — Image by Richard Buxo, SplashNewsEmbed from Getty Images
Dua Lipa at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards, 2022
There have been countless recreations of the iconic Bondage dress, with the most recent one being Kaia Gerber’s 18th birthday in 2019, and Dua Lipa at the 2022 Grammys. Embed from Getty Images
Elizabeth Hurley wearing the risqué safety pin dress, 1994
The safety pin dress is said to have taken inspiration from punk rock musicians of the time. The dress was not deemed to be so popular at the time of its design. In fact, it was delivered to Elizabeth Hurley, a relatively unknown actress, after she had gotten rejected by several brands for receiving a dress to wear at the red carpet. In an interview, Donatella Versace revealed that it was the only dress left in the press room when she sent in the last-minute request. Little would anyone know how both the dress and Elizabeth Hurley would be thrust into the spotlight overnight.
Another element of Versace’s designs is bold and colourful prints that often create an enticing mix of classical art and modern silhouettes.
Versace Spring/Summer 2023 Men’s Collection – Image by Numéro Netherlands
Irina Shayk dressed head-to-toe in Versace prints from the 90s “Warhol” collection – Image by REX, Shutterstock
One of Versace’s many Baroque Silk Shirts – Image by VITKAC
Baroque Architecture – Source
Perhaps the most iconic Versace design of all time is their Baroque Silk Shirt, of which they have countless variations. By replacing angels and cherubs from Italian frescoes with gold chains, Versace allows the wearer to gain a sense of Italian luxury while still feeling modern.
A special mention: Versace’s Gowns
Versace has made it to the Best Dressed List countless times since the 90s. With its bold and extravagant looks, it is hard to miss a Versace look on the red carpet.Embed from Getty Images
Jennifer Lopez’s green Versace dress from the 42nd Grammys, 2000
Jennifer Lopez’s green dress from the 2000s made history when it reportedly inspired Google to create Google Image Search after so many people searched for the dress. This serves as a reminder of fashion’s undeniable impact on the rest of the world.
The 2018 Met Gala, titled “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” brought with it stunning interpretations of Christian imagery. Versace, with its Italian inspirations, did not fail to deliver. Two of the most stunning gowns were donned by Blake Lively and Gigi Hadid.Embed from Getty Images
Blake Lively donning a custom Versace gown at the 2018 Met Gala
Portrait of a Young Woman in the Tudor era – Source
Blake Lively’s gown, with a huge train and intricate beading, took a whopping 600+ hours to complete. The heavy fabric and intricate beading pulled inspiration from medieval royal looks.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
Gigi Hadid wearing Custom Versace at the 2018 Met Gala
Gigi Hadid’s look resembled stained glass windows from a church, and was done in an absolutely magnificent way. Everything from the sheer fabric to the way the colours reflected off the dress really sold the look.Embed from Getty Images
Dua Lipa donning of the most vibrant dresses at the 2019 Met Gala
Dua Lipa’s Versace outfit at the 2019 Met Gala showed a different side of Versace, the one associated with bold and colourful silk prints. The vibrant silk gown successfully lived up to the year’s theme titled “Notes on Camp”.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
Blake Lively’s stunning copper Versace gown unravels into a mixture of copper and light blue
Present-day statue of liberty – Image by Francisco Diez from New York City, USA – Uploaded by Rojypala, CC BY 2.0
A Statue of Liberty postcard, 1906 – Source
In a stunning show of innovative fashion tactics, Blake Lively’s copper gown was unravelled to reveal a light blue layer to symbolize the transformation of the Statue of Liberty throughout the years. The year’s theme was “Gilded Glamour”, referring to the Gilded Age in New York from the 1870s to 90s.
Versace’s Latest Drop
Versace recently collaborated with Dua Lipa, who has been seen wearing Versace clothing on the red carpet for quite some time.
Some of the pieces from the Dua Lipa x Versace “La Vacanza” collection – Source
The clothes are light and summery and frequently feature butterfly motifs. Dua Lipa has been spotted wearing butterfly patterns before as well, so it is no wonder that she would include that in her collection with Versace.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
Dua Lipa wearing Versace at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, 2021
The drop has been quite well received by the public, showcasing how Versace is nowhere close to slowing down or going irrelevant. Here’s to hoping they continue to serve looks in the years to come!
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- Navarro, Mireya. “Versace, Fashion Innovator, Slain in Miami Beach.” The New York Times, July 16, 1997. https://www.nytimes.com/1997/07/16/us/versace-fashion-innovator-slain-in-miami-beach.html.
- Kia, Kara. “The Untold Fashion Story of Elizabeth Hurley’s Iconic Versace Safety Pin Dress.” Popsugar, August 4, 2020. https://www.popsugar.com/fashion/elizabeth-hurley-black-versace-safety-pin-dress-47667040.
- Dyer, Deidre. “Anatomy of a Trend: Versace’s Baroque Print.” The FADER, October 24, 2017. https://www.thefader.com/2011/10/20/anatomy-of-a-trend-versaces-baroque-print.
- Tashjian, Rachel. “How Jennifer Lopez’s Versace Dress Created Google Images.” GQ, September 20, 2019. https://www.gq.com/story/jennifer-lopez-versace-google-images.
- Komar, Marlen. “Blake Lively’s 2018 Met Gala Dress Took over 600 Hours to Make & It Was Worth It.” Bustle, May 8, 2018. https://www.bustle.com/p/blake-livelys-2018-met-gala-dress-took-over-600-hours-to-make-it-was-worth-it-9017742.
- Parker, Brinton. “Gigi Hadid’s Met Gala Gown Has a Slit so Sexy, You’ll Need to Confess after Seeing It.” Popsugar, May 10, 2018. https://www.popsugar.com/fashion/gigi-hadid-versace-2018-met-gala-44819848.
- Casas, Maya. “Met Gala 2022: The Gilded-Less and the Glamourless.” The Queen’s Journal, May 15, 2023. https://www.queensjournal.ca/met-gala-2022-the-gilded-less-and-the-glamourless/