VERSACE SPRING 2011 BACK STAGE.
The eighties hold a powerful sway over the house of Versace, and Martyn Bal, new man on the company's menswear block, certainly didn't resist their appeal in his debut collection. Inspired by the photos Bruce Weber took of rockabilly boys at the end of that decade and drawing on references from old Versus and Jeans Couture collections, Bal offered up a Stray Cats version of the Versace man. It was a universe away from where this guy had been heading of late (when Alexandre Plokhov last had some creative input), but Bal said after the show that he anticipated a new, younger customer would see the appeal of his proposals.
These included faux-bib-fronted shirts, a drape jacket with a shawl collar in black leather, jackets and trousers in sheeny tonic fabric, low-slung leather pants with fringes trailing from the side seams, and a big cream overcoat, also bedecked with showgirl fringe. A donkey jacket in red leather looked grown-up by comparison.
Bal is an alumnus of Dior Homme, and the new-wave leanings of that label clearly informed his work here, in items like jackets with a cutaway, crossover closing. But the collection's clearest successes—the optical silk shirts, the graphic section of swimsuits and silk robes in a black-and-white Vorticist pattern—were those that were most "Versace."