Versace RTW Spring 2017

What? Didn’t peg Donatella Versace for the athletic type? She’s more invested in the sports world than one might assume. She hits the gym, at least according to Instagram, where she recently posted a few photos of herself midworkout on a Pilates reformer, as well as bikini shots to flaunt the fruits of her labor. No less an athletic phenom than Serena Williams was the lone VIP at Versace’s spring show, a celebration of female strength and power through a collection fueled by activewear.

Surely sporty, performance-inspired dressing isn’t new in fashion. Hello, ath-leisure, a silly word turned serious business. Yet Versace is confident in the style’s staying power, and very aware of what she must bring to the game. “Sportswear is the future of fashion,” she said in her show notes. “To make it unique and luxurious is the challenge I took this season.” It was a challenge. Making chic, compelling clothes worthy of the Versace runway out of items — we’re talking windbreakers, sweatshirts, tracksuits — that rightly belong to an affordable, mass market is not easy or necessary. But in the parlance of Nike, Versace just did it.

She did so with elegance, craft and the swagger for which the house is known, building the athletic undercurrent of last season’s chic, relatively subdued daywear-based collection into an overtone. Edie Campbell opened the show looking like a svelte superhero in a billowing, parachute windbreaker done in panels of blue, purple and green over a curve-long top and zip-up stretch pants in matching color-blocked swirls. Jewel-toned blue, green and purple nylon was cut into pretty sleeveless dresses slit and ruched with cording detail to softly accent the body. Supple power tailoring — seamed blazers and cropped, kick flare pants — came in rich technical jersey. Versace elevated more literal sporty stuff, such as track suits, a boxy cropped Mac and a fantastic long trench, without making them precious by working in bonded waterproof fabrics in zippy yet refined colorblocks of red, navy and khaki.

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