Original supermodels assemble for catwalk tribute to Gianni Versace

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Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Helena Christensen and Carla Bruni in Donatella Versaces Milan show

Of everything Gianni Versace devoted to popular culture- he invented the celebrity front row, the metal mesh cocktail dress and arguably the career of Elizabeth Hurley, who might never have found renown were it not for That Dress- the supermodel is his greatest legacy. So it was a fitting tribute that a supermodel reunion was the centrepiece of the Versace display staged to mark the 20 th anniversary of his murder.

Versace invented the supermodel, plucking a few choice models from the runway ranks and elevating them to a higher strata of glamour. Other models remained humble clothes horses, but this elite became goddesses. Versace, who was already conjuring the imagery of classical goddesses with his becomingly draped attires, made the perfect females to wear them.

Prints charming: models in signature Versace style. Photo: Luca Bruno/ AP

Donatella Versace, who took over as designer soon after her brother’s sudden death, presented a blockbuster tribute show that ended with five of the original supermodels- Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Helena Christensen and the former French first lady Carla Bruni- taking to the catwalk together, soundtracked by George Michael’s Freedom. The finale was designed to reenact one of Gianni Versace’s most iconic moments from 1991, when four supermodels strolled arm in arm on the runway as George Michael sat in the front row.

As a power move at manner week, it was sheer shock and awe. The original supers are still worshipped by the industry. But by putting five women in the spotlight on a night dedicated to her friend, Donatella Versace also ensured that the optics emphasised her brother’s” allegiance to girls “.

At a press conference before the prove Donatella Versace said that the catwalk rehearsal with the starring models- whom she referred to as “icons”, rather than supermodels- had been the most emotional moment of the preparations.

Gianni and Donatella Versace in New York in the 1990 s:’ Gianni was all about joy, and so full of life ‘. Photograph: Rose Hartman/ Getty Images

” But today I am not sad. I am happy that after 20 years I can finally do this with a smile on my face ,” she said, adding that she had been maintained busy by the antics of her five stars.” They have a green room each, but they are running in and out of each other’s rooms all day. And since they are walk the runway together they are arguing about who gets to go in the middle, just like the old days .”

Donatella Versace employed publishes from her brother’s collects between 1991 and 1995 as the basis for this collection.” The silhouettes are all new because the shapes from those days look dated today ,” she said.” Except the leggings. Everyone loves the leggings again. The models like Gigi and Bella[ Hadid] are always asking me where they can get the nineties Versace leggings .”

She decided on his famously exuberant publishes as the best homage to her friend because” Gianni was all about joy, and so full of life, and the publishes genuinely express that spirit “. Leopard from the Animaliercollection of 1992, Greek keys from the Baroque collection of 1991 and Marilyn screenprints from the 1991 Warhol show were revisited for this season.

Alessandro Michele of Gucci, Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino and Anthony Vaccarello of Saint Laurent were among the designers who had accepted Donatella’s invitation to attend the show.

Nineties reunion. The original supermodels strike a pose. Photo: Venturelli/ WireImage

Earlier, at the Cavalli show, there was a cooler tone on a catwalk that has felt hectic in the past. Froufrou embellishments were banished in favour of lean, athletic, body-framing lines. Racer-back shapes, sporty stretching fabrics and clean, simple styling edged the brand out of the boudoir. Daywear pieces far outnumbered garments, and most of the shoes were flat. Monochromatic zebra stripes seemed where leopard print once ruled.

Paul Surridge, the British designer now presiding over the leopard print empire that is Roberto Cavalli, is smart enough to recognise when a brand does not give itself to intellectualising. Wearing Roberto Cavalli is to style what buying expensive champagne, shaking the bottle and spraying it over your friends is to wine connoisseurship.

Models wear Paul Surridge’s designs in Milan: there was a cooler tone on a catwalk that has felt hectic in the past. Photo: Andreas Solaro/ AFP/ Getty Images

In his first Cavalli show on Friday at Milan style week, Surridge maintained faith with the brand’s heritage but modernised and streamlined the clothes on the runway.

” It isn’t intellectual – it’s a deliberate move away from that sort of way ,” explained Surridge in a recent interview.” This girl … is athletic, beautiful and she doesn’t want to be questioned .”

Roberto Cavalli left the brand he founded two years ago, resigning from design duties and selling 90% of the company. His immediate successor, Peter Dundas, hired from fellow Milan-glam brand Pucci, lasted only three seasons. This indicate was the first by Surridge, who took up the job two months ago.

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