Critics Are Overwhelmed by Versace, Teary Over Dolce & Gabbana

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From left: Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace. Photo: Imaxtree

The latest reviews are in from Milan. The critics were divided on Versace's "ultrasexy, futuristic sci-fi spree," admiring her brazen attitude but questioning the collection's cohesiveness. Prada's voluptuous-yet-demure looks made the women in attendance want to dress like librarians (and succumb to carbs). And Dolce & Gabbana's tribute to old-fashioned tailoring left them crying in the aisles. Read the rest of what they had to say.

Versace
Donatella detoured from the goddess gowns of last season into an edgy collection that divided the critics. It was a "ramped up biker gal marching to gutsy beat laid down by a self-confident designer," declared Godfrey Deeny of Fashion Wire Daily. WWD called it an "ultrasexy futuristic sci-fi spree," and British Vogue thought it "showed all the sex appeal and high voltage, attention-grabbing glamour she does best." On the whole, however, the collection was uneven. The Wall Street Journal labeled the mash-up of fabrics and textures — a trend this season — "mixed-media dressing": On long, pleated gowns, "[t]his worked particularly well"; on tight leather pantsuits "it was clunky." Though Cathy Horyn of the Times admired split-front minidresses that "looked charged with new energy," other pieces felt "a bit industrial and retreaded." Deeny, though a proponent of the collection overall, "could not fully get the overly long gowns for night that swung this way and that." Style.com thought the show "had the feel of an experiment only half realized," switching from geometric, asymmetrical designs into biker pants into tight minidresses. "Those aren't really the kind of visuals to get the adrenaline pumping at Versace," it concluded. WWD summed it up best. "Did it push the limits of good taste?" it asked. "Yes. Yet, it’s hard not to admire something so brazen and completely self-aware."

Watch a slideshow of the Versace collection.

Prada
Prada's prim, sixties-inspired collection surprised and delighted the critics. "They were pretty, which isn't what you expect to say of a Prada show," remarked The Wall Street Journal, praising an array of looks befitting "an impeccably dressed and wealthy librarian." Godfrey Deeny of Fashion Wire Daily called it a "brilliantly staged and artfully constructed" show, particularly the bust-enhancing chiffon tops: "A tricky wear, but a brilliant look." British Vogue thought the army of housewives projected "incredibly sexy undertones" that were "tantalizingly feminine." Several reviewers praised Prada's newfound muse this season. "It was nice to see that Prada envisages this being worn by women other than the zombie army of teen models that has roamed her runway recently," noted Style.com. ("Eat that bagel!" rejoiced Cathy Horyn of the Times.) But Horyn thought that some of the firm bodices and matronly pleats "seem[ed] designed to evoke a stultifying existence," concluding that "the thought process did not seem very sophisticated." Indeed, though it was at times "conservative, almost funereal," the overall effect managed to be "demure yet seductive," praised WWD. It was a "deliberate, and quietly humorous, compliment to the womanly," summed up Style.com.

Watch a slideshow of the Prada collection.

Dolce & Gabbana
Dolce & Gabbana's fall show moved less-steely audience members to tears, opening with a video depicting hand-tailoring by the designers and their staff. British Vogue called it a "triumphant show," showcasing the brand's strengths with sexy dresses, lace, and lingerie. The centerpiece of the collection was obviously the tailored black jacket, which was displayed in 70 iterations during the striking finale. "[Dolce & Gabbana's traditional tailoring] has never dominated the dramatic looks of the runway in such a way before," enthused The Wall Street Journal, and WWD gushed over the attention to detail: "Every seam, every button, every sleeve and shoulder impeccably finished." Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune appreciated the "unmistakable edge of Italian craftsmanship" — particularly admiring the beautiful hand-painted floral patterns; still, "next season they might insert the shock of something new," she suggested. "But what really matters?" countered Style.com. "That what Dolce & Gabbana does remains, immaculately, the same."

Watch a slideshow of the Dolce & Gabbana collection.