Versace showed its SS21 collection over the weekend at Milan Fashion Week, which in spite of Covid-19, is going ahead as usual, albeit with various safety measures in place.
For next summer's wares, long-serving artistic director Donatella Versace wrote that she "wanted to create something disruptive, something that could be in tune with what has changed inside all of us. This collection has an upbeat soul and is optimistic, dreamy, positive... These are clothes that bring you joy." And you know what? Fair enough!
The menswear was equal parts camp and chic, with glittery starfish adornments across the collection's pervasive Trésor de la Mer sea-life print. There were a few style bangers in the form of cropped knit tees and sheer long-sleeved tops with an arresting conflation of polka dots, grids, and stripes in every color imaginable. The womenswear focused on seashell-shaped slip dresses, striped blazers, and a pair of low-riding pants that have Instagram influencer bait written all over them.
The show was remarkable for a few other things too. Firstly, we, the general public, were spared another content re-up of the J.Lo green dress. May its over-exhausted legacy finally rest in peace.
Secondly, the show made waves on social media — a goal for any fashion show — for its diverse casting, notably the inclusion of Precious Lee, Jill Kortleve, and Alva Claire who elicited a uniformly exuberant reaction from those watching the show via Instagram.
Although Versace is not the first brand to include a wider range of body sizes on the runway (Kortleve literally walked for Jacquemus in the wheat fields a few months ago), it was certainly a watershed moment. It makes you think, perhaps the reason the fashion gatekeepers were initially so reluctant to include "plus-size" models on their runways and campaigns was not out of fear that customers wouldn't like it, but because they would like it — and that beckons a serious reconsideration of the aspirational-too-tall-and-too-thin aesthetic that much of the industry's marketing is predicated on.
Hopefully, this is just the beginning, and perhaps, with Versace taking a stance to showcase a broader spectrum of beauty, we can also retire the term "plus-size." However, in light of an ongoing discourse about body positivity it's worth noting that the casting of male models was still extremely athletic, and/or unattainably thin.