Ffashion shows are showbiz again. Donatella Versace staged the first post-pandemic blockbuster, with five Britons and two Grammy winner singer Dua Lipa wearing a cropped black dress and safety pin earrings on the catwalk as a tribute to the red carpet dress that made Elizabeth Hurley famous 27 years ago.

The Friday night show, which also starred Madonna’s daughter Lourdes Leon, would be the first of Versace’s two appearances at Milan Fashion Week.

The brand is reportedly collaborating with Fendi on a joint “secret” show co-designed by Donatella Versace and Fendi Creative Directors Kim Jones and Silvia Venturini Fendi. Cryptic gold and white invitations signed simply “Donatella” and inviting guests to “something special” on Sunday night are examined for clues.

“Fersace” – as the collaboration is already called – would be a powerful manifestation of Italian solidarity. With Milan in the eye of the storm when the Covid-19 arrived in Europe last spring, the industry was hit hard by the pandemic. A collaboration between two rival houses in a historically fierce industry would be the symbol of a new spirit of conviviality.

Two months ago, Kim Kardashian – who may or may not be involved in the business, depending on who you think – sparked rumors when she posted a photo of herself with Versace and Jones in Rome. Neither Fendi nor Versace have denied reports on Sunday’s show.

Fashion designer duos are hot right now. A Gucci runway in April featured a silver pantsuit with rival fashion label Balenciaga’s name sporting sequins – the runway equivalent of Adidas putting a Nike swoosh on a sneaker.

Donatella Versace with Dua Lipa at the end of Versace spring / summer 2022 fashion show in Milan. Photograph: Alessandro Garofalo / Reuters

In response, Balenciaga is now selling an almost exact copy of Gucci’s iconic Jackie bag, only with the GG logo in the monogram replaced by a BB. However, Balenciaga and Gucci are owned by Kering. A Fendi x Versace tie-up would be more surprising, as there is no commercial link between the two. Fendi is part of the LVMH group, while Versace is owned by Capri Holdings, an American team that also houses Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo.

Prada, as usual, is ahead of its tendency to collaborate. Prada is the result of a joint effort between two great designers since Raf Simons joined Miuccia Prada as a full partner in the design studio last year. Their first live duo show was presented in doubles, with two identical collections on the catwalks simultaneously in Milan and Shanghai on Friday.

The message – the return of the miniskirt – was brilliantly simple, a response to critics who wondered if two headstrong designers would be able to co-write a strong fashion message. Short, pointy skirts in matte black or bright yellow satin, worn bare-legged with low-heeled sandals, were paired with shrugged leather jackets or heavy knitwear. After years where long skirts dominated fashion, Prada’s effortlessly cool minis were alluring and different.


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