Heritage Futurism: Versace Jeans Couture SS2023
Ask anyone: the Y2K aesthetic is “back.” About a year ago, we were in 1991 – or was it 2091? Trends cycle out so rapidly these days that you might start to wonder if linear time is real at all. There are few brands better positioned to revisit the late 1990s and early 2000s – and splice that DNA with the codes of the digital era – than VERSACE JEANS COUTURE.
For Spring/Summer 2023, the label’s sole diffusion line revisits the Italian luxury brand’s own era-defining designs from the turn of the millennium for a collection that is “futuristic with a retro edge.” The transtemporality of this fashion present echoes the architectural mash-up of Berlin-Mitte, where aging monuments of a futurism-past sit alongside a Baroque palace that just finished construction late last year.
Shot by REBECCA ESKILSSON and styled by BILLY LOBOS, this story unfolds at the neighborhood’s Schinkel Pavilion, an experimental contemporary art institution housed in another strange scramble of temporalities and repetitions. An unexpected homage to neoclassicism constructed at the nucleus of East German cultural history, the pavilion is named after the 19th century architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, whose most famous works lie nearby, on Museum Island. But it was designed in 1969 by Richard Paulick, a Bauhaus disciple best known for the Stalinist residential blocks that line Berlin’s Karl-Marx-Allee. Back in the days before the fall of the wall, GDR politician Erich Honecker hosted famously decadent cocktail parties in the space. Some eight decades prior to that, in 1918, Ludwig Justi founded what many consider to be the world’s first contemporary art museum on the same grounds, at the Kronprinzenpalais.
Berlin is famous for its radical transformations. The city today looks very little like it did a century ago, and the old buildings that still stand today have witnessed a parade of Prussian aristocrats, Third Reich officials, Cold War artillery, fetish-clubbers, start-up employees. But even in the German capital, the Schinkel Pavilion stands out. It represents not a linear evolution, but rather a cyclical return: before World War II, it was a place to view works by the artistic avant-garde. After some changes of the guard, it is again one today. The cocktail parties are back with a vengeance, too.
Of course, nothing – whether a moment in history or a pose in front of the camera – repeats exactly as it was. It's more about layering. Versace Jeans Couture’s latest season could be said to do that in more ways than one.
The brand is all about bringing heritage signatures into the ultra-present. The latest collection’s millennium twist is just one illustration of why Versace Jeans Couture is best thought of in terms of fusion (not diffusion). Started in 2018, the label is an integration of the Versace Jeans denim line with the then-dormant Versus – an iconic iteration of the parent brand’s 1990s ethos that was put on hold in 2005. Or perhaps, it just jumped space/time continuums. Now, for Spring/Summer 2023, Dayglo nylon, block-colored bodycons, and gradient stretch fabrics meet seasonal prints, asymmetric hemlines for a touch of feminine grunge. Relaxed fits and washed-out dyes signal youthful classicism in vintage- and workwear-inspired denim. Trompe l’oeil effects make intact jeans look frayed and whiskered, adding to the layered scenery like plot points accumulating in a dream. Bygone Baroque lives on in decadent hardware trims and bold COUTURE logos. Floral prints in mens- and womenswear channel fairy tale Romanticism – via reawakened “twigs and roses” motifs from Versus’ Spring/Summer 1997 collection. Versace insignia give “tradition,” but what they signify is timelessness.
Just out of these images’ frame, the exhibitions on site infused the multi-dimensional atmosphere. Downstairs, Jon Rafman’s “Egregores and Grimoires” explored archive, memory, and meaning in videos set in dystopian virtual worlds difficult to locate in time – but clearly not far from our own.
It's a bit like the fashion calendar itself, where spring is autumn and winter is summer (except when they're not). We welcome the bloom of this collection's roses a few months before the summer flowers will blossom IRL. Whatever timescape you inhabit – or dress for – you can discover this season's campaign and shop the Versace Jeans Couture Spring/Summer 2023 collection at versace.com.