A Korny Catch: Versace’s Venture Into The Unknown

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Versace has long been one of the world’s biggest fashion giants, being placed amongst the likes of Gucci, Chanel, and Moschino. Until very recently, it was one of the only independent fashion houses left: enter Michael Kors. The eponymous designer swooped in, snatching up Gianni’s world for a cool $2.1 billion dollars. Whilst Donatella Versace (Gianni’s sister) will uphold her stance at the creative helm, both her own and her families shares – as well as the 20% owned by private firm, The Blackstone Group – will now be owned by Kors’ company, the newly renamed ‘Capri Holdings’. So, what does this mean for Versace?

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Announcements have revealed plans to open another 100 Versace outlets, in addition to increasing the sale of footwear and accessories from 35% to 60%. This is, in turn, said to boost the company’s revenue to over $2 billion a year, with accessory departments being shown to often sell pieces mush faster (based on their lowered prices in comparison to designer clothes). Sound familiar? That’s because it’s exactly what Michael Kors does. Every man and their dog has a Michael Kors handbag or watch, and it’s probably because they are deemed a high-fashion label that is affordable, making purchase of their items a perfect way for the regular Jo to flaunt their designer tastes and incoming bank balance. This fashion ethic has never seen the time of day from Versace.

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The 1978, Milan-based project has always stood apart from other designers. The brand first saw its names in lights in 1994 when Liz Hurley wore ‘That Dress’: a stunning black number, structured with flattering cut-outs, and embellished with golden chains and pins; classic Versace, and memorable to this day. Until his assassination in 1997, Gianni found clients in the likes of Princess Diana, Elton John, and Michael Jackson. Supermodels including Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, and Linda Evangelista stomped down the runway in his daring, innovative inventions. Following his death, Donatella was granted responsibility of the company, utilising this moment to make a name for herself, and ultimately leading to designer idolisation inside of maintaining Gianni’s originality and greatness. As a result, the fashion house became synonymous to other iconic moments, sighting in particular Jennifer Lopez’s leaf-print realness at the Grammy Awards, 2000. Boldly shaped, and in a complimentary green tone, J-Lo’s bravery got her as far as number five in The Daily Telegraph’s, 2008 poll of the most iconic dress of all time. ‘That Dress’ came in at number one.

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The Italian-bred trademark has certainly endured the test of time, being the originator and changer of trends; a corporation relied on by mega-stars from then and now. The Kardashians, The Beckhams, Angelina Jolie, Cindy Crawford, and Nicki Minaj are just a few name-drops amid Versace’s contact book. Donatella’s most recent debut for SPRING/SUMMER 2018 admits itself as a gorgeous homage to Gianni and his life’s work, using the entirety of his niche artistry in design, and revamping it for the new generation of supermodels to showcase. Baroque patterns are back and better than ever – presenting themselves in the form of audacious prints smothered over jackets and pants to fair, subtle hints across a number of tasteful, black dresses. The jungle is also dominating fabrics, with graphic prints from the animal kingdom being plastered upon a range of garments.  The themes have partnered, and whilst sounding like something that maybe shouldn’t work, it in fact performs harmoniously. Fresh pastels have also had plenty of debut on the runway, beginning with baby pinks to powder blues. Velvet dresses also pronouncing themselves a must-have; simple, elegant, and wiping the board clean for Gianni’s empire. Versace did ALL THAT.

Having now endured a territorial move, and turning into the hands of Kors, fans have been admitting their worries for the direction Versace will now take. When thinking about Michael Kors, the first thing to spring to mind are the modelled images of handbags and watches bombarding your Instagram feed the morning of December 25th; basic, white girls across the country captioning their goods with ‘boy did good *heart eyes emojis*’ – ecstatic that their Fiat 500 status is preserved for a little while longer. Is proud, couture, luxurious Versace really going to become synonymous to the Starbucks-loving, white converse, leather jacket-wearing women of this generation?

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Undeniably, Kors’ designer realm is doing statistically well. With hundreds of boutiques worldwide, and in 2014 earning a revenue of $3.2 billion over the year, it is hard to ignore that these figures have more than likely only grown in recent years. Although their success may be indisputable, their tastes can undoubtedly be argued. The company have been flagged up for their tacky, unoriginal, and overdone nature on several occasions, and personally, I would not be caught dead dressed in their cheaply offensive wear. In a choice between Versace and Kors, Versace would be my answer every time. You’d be hard pushed to find a line more carefully curated, more substantial and tasteful than Versace, with Michael Kors falling pitifully short in comparison. Every single one of their handbags mimics another, simply changing only in colour/shape/size. Far from being high class, the group’s relationship with basic b*tches has determined their own hubris.

Where possible, Kors has attempted to find its fit with the likes of Fendi and Prada; a complete act of denial from the brand’s originator. If this sale causes Versace’s world-renowned status to suffer, in the process of morphing into Kors’ underwhelming visionaries, fashionistas everywhere will be up in arms.

However, it must be noted this is not Kors’ first takeover. 2017 saw Britain’s beloved Jimmy Choo transfer for a whopping £896 million. Plans to boost revenue and ‘diversify’ products from then, hold major similarities to the current Kors-Versace manifesto. But did this work? The results are yet to be seen. This raises questions as to the future of major fashion houses, and whether a potential increase in sales will act as an ultimatum, in sacrifice of their paradigmatic, unique senses of style. Hopefully, this will not be the case.

With Donatella still retaining elements of creative control, there may not be as much to worry about as what the current state of affairs may imply. If proceeding results of the takeover evidence in more, high quality, stunningly designed accessories and shoes, then is it really the end of the world for Versace as we know it? Fashion-onlookers have expressed their concern mainly for the possible loss of Versace’s integrity. However, with Donatella still hands-on-deck, we can only pray that this will not be the case.

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So far, Versace seems to be safe from the Michael Kors curse. Avoiding a trashy, vulgar version of Versace is with any luck, something we won’t ever have to commit to. But if the time does come for the fashion house’ funeral, I’ll be the first to organise a mass burning of all Michael Kors handbags in response.