Evening dress

Designer: Gianni Versace (Italian, 1946–1997)

Design House: Gianni Versace (Italian, founded 1978)

Date: spring/summer 1996

Culture: Italian

Medium: silk, synthetic

Credit Line: Gift of Donatella Versace, 1999

Accession Number: 1999.328.4


Gianni Versace's love of classical themes is evident in the Medusa-head logo that established his atelier's identity. The Versace goddess is worldly, without the idealized aura of the Hellenic arcadia. Her confidence is almost brazen, and her taste for spectacular effects is uninhibited. In Versace's imagination, classical dress was an opportunity for body-revealing drape and incandescent effects. This gown's silver satin sheathes the torso, then opens up to fanning pleats at the skirt. Arcing inserts of silver gauze, with iridescent paillettes and crystal beads densely embroidered at their crest, waft over the wearer's legs in a wavelike undulation, opening the gown and exposing the body beneath. In repose, the satin pleats endow the wearer with a columnar dignity, but in motion, the disclosure of the body and the liquid drift of the sheer fabric suggest Venus emerging from the sea.