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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

House of Versace - Some Thoughts

Whenever any high profile fashion-themed television program airs, non-fashion people inevitably bombard me for my opinion on it.  Mostly, they want confirmation that what they see is "really how it is".    I watched Lifetime TV's House of Versace last night with pretty low expectations in the accuracy or artistic merit department, but fully expected to see some great fashion.

I love Gina Gershon as an actress.  She plays ballsy roles that mix sexy, wacky and scary oh so well.  She played an over-the-top Italian beauty maven on the television show Ugly Betty a few years which no doubt served as her audition.  As Donatella Versace, she looked great and created a flawed, but sympathetic character.  She was over the top as you would like her to be with the men, sassy quotes, drugs and drama.  However, I'm sure I'm not alone in being disappointed that there wasn't a bit more humor in this portrayal.  I think Maya Rudolph set the bar too high on Saturday Night Live.  

I was preparing to indulge in a trip to my favorite 1990's fashion moments.  The peppy club hits at the beginning of the movie had me optimistic.  I was actually at the first Versace show to debut in Bryant Park many years ago.  It was one of my favorite shows of all time.  However, the biggest disappointment of this film was the cheap recreations of the Versace fashion.  It was far too obvious that the pieces were not the real thing.  The models in the film just didn't have the walk or the attitude or the posture of the models back then.  The fabrics looked cheap and clothes fit poorly.  I know that the costume designer Claire Nadon attempted to source some pieces from Ebay and followed pictures in a book, but 90% of the wardrobe were just knockoffs.  Really?  Half the women in Los Angeles and every costume studio should have racks of it.  

For all of Donatella's declarations about heels and confidence, the runway shows certainly didn't reflect it.  The poorly produced fashion segments looked so bad that the viewer who doesn't remember the real thing will end up wondering why the Versace name ever became an icon.

Drugs and champagne in fashion! Yes, it exists, but only occasionally to a certain segment of the population.  Yes we know the woman went to rehab.  The movie started with her hustling for editorial and celebrity coverage.  All the extraneous work that needs to be done just to get the fashion designs to be seen, but the movie dissolves into scene after scene of her drug use that overshadows her work and particular talents that made her a great partner to her brother.  Gianni was murdered, cue slo-mo Donatella drop to the ground.  How about the shock and sadness of all of his peers and what he meant to the fashion world?

I know a Lifetime Movie is about sensational drama and not a documentary.  I just wish for once that the real star (the clothes) would be the ones to shine.

Did you watch the movie?  What did you think?

Photo: Joseph Viles/Courtesy of Lifetime

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