Goths, Brides, and Directional Purple
At Versace’s spring 2023 show in Milan, the lighting was set to a hazy purple, candle bulbs flanked the runway, and the subversive Y2K Goth was completely reborn as Paris Hilton closed the show in a glittering dress and hot pink fingerless gloves, playing the part of goddess-turned-ringleader.
The show opened with cutout jersey dresses before going headfirst into rocker leathers in the form of mini skirts, fringed jackets, low-slung belts, and silver and gold studded gowns. Versace has perpetually been associated with bold prints and colors in the past, and the nearly all-black collection felt like the label was dipping deeper into a slightly different look that they’ve touched on in recent seasons.
Black is undoubtedly one of the most powerful hues in fashion, and it’s represented so many things—from mourning to power dressing. More designers are gravitating toward the blank slate of the color as a concept (see Richard Quinn, or Balenciaga) an intriguing move when we’re on the edge of a recession and coming out of a cocoon in which maximalism really flourished. Today’s perception of the color black in fashion almost feels like a fresh start.
Versace’s vision of black was well-executed and kept the darkest hue exciting through embellishment, layering, styling, and playing with proportions—which the label is known to do. But when it came down to some pieces, like a spiky black knit, for example, it was hard not to consider it incredibly referential, whether intentional or not. (The knitwear designer Chet Lo, for example, has made that particular style his signature for the past few years.) Elsewhere, the Y2K aesthetic that permeated the collection felt like things we’ve very much seen before from ’90s-era Anna Sui or modern Blumarine. The hooded look was gorgeous, but felt like a Halston-era Grace Jones moment.
What did resonate as sort of glorious was the part of the collection rendered completely in a very specific shade of acidic purple. Part ’90s, part whimsigoth, all Prince, there was absolutely no question that the pigment had major impact and power on the runway—especially in slip dress gowns, hooded tops, little leather tube dresses, and chunky jackets.
Technicolor brides in highlighter yellow and hot pink, complete with delicate veils, closed the show, and some of the industry’s buzziest names walked, including Adut Akech, Precious Lee, Gigi and Bella Hadid, Irina Shayk, and Emily Ratajkowski.
Black bodes well for the new era of maximalist Goths, after season upon season of dopamine-drenched colors. But perhaps here’s even more power in purple and monochromatic dressing as a mode of self-expression. Lately, it’s as if hues themselves have achieved trend status. Bottega Veneta had its green, Valentino created a pink moment that was helped along with the rising Barbiecore trend, and it’s easy to see how Versace could get a grasp on such a directional purple.