Published to accompany a major exhibition of the work of Gianni Versace at the Victoria and Albert Museum, this book provides a glittering retrospective of one of the 20th century's most innovative and enigmatic designers. Always flamboyant and outrageous, Versace's imaginative and intelligent collections drew inspiration from pop culture and the street, as well as from his impressive knowledge of art and fashion. His work is seen here from two different but complementary perspectives - Art and Craft. "Art" lays out a glamorous array of designs, from asymmetric tailored suits to flamboyant print dresses, garments in leather and metal mesh, gorgeous evening wear and exotic theatre designs. Scattered through the pages are pictures of some of Versace's most famous clients: Liz Hurley in the notorious safety pin dress and Princess Diana. But the real stars are the exquisite designs themselves, created to flatter the female form and to lend panache to the male wardrobe. Understated elegance was not Versace's aim: his clothes stand out from the crowd, demanding to be admired, and are featured here in stunning, specially commissioned photographs.
"Craft" looks at Versace's highly inventive use of materials, such as Oroton, the metal mesh he created which can be draped like the finest silk. Other innovative techniques include his idiosyncratic weaving methods and his flair for combining unlikely partners: Prince of Wales check with baroque embroidery, denim and diamante. Showing his fabrics, prints, applique and embroidery in close-up, this section focuses on the detail of Versace's craftsmanship . The stylish page design gives each section its own distinctive look. The paperback cover opens out into page size flaps which feature a colourful parade of images to delight fashion lovers and students alike.
Claire Wilcox is curator of the exhibition Versace at the V&A. She recently curated the highly successful V&A exhibition Radical Fashion (autumn 2001) and edited the accompanying book. She is also the author of Bags (V&A Publications, 1999)