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“It’s Been Absolutely Mindblowing”: Dua And Donatella On Co-Designing A Versace Collection Made For Hot Summer Nights

Photo: Alfonso Catalano

Dua Lipa approached her first foray into fashion design – a collaboration with her friend Donatella Versace – with hedonistic summers in mind, so it’s only fitting that they cooked up the idea for the “La Vacanza” collection on a girls’ night out. “We decided to do it on a night out in New York,” Dua revealed at a press conference and preview in Cannes, hours before the capsule was unveiled in a blockbuster runway presentation on the French Riviera. “Donatella and I have done a lot together over time, but the opportunity to step into the atelier and be a part of the Versace story has been absolutely mindblowing.”

The La Vacanza collection on the runway in Cannes. Photo: Alfonso Catalano

The singer’s close relationship with the house began back in 2018, when she wore a spring/summer 2018 Versace swimsuit in its Tresor de la Mer print to perform her smash hit “New Rules” at the Brit Awards. “Donatella has supported me from the very beginning,” Dua said. “That Brits performance was very special to me.” In the years since, the star has worn vintage Versace to the Grammys, modelled its collections in the pages of British Vogue, and opened Donatella’s spring/summer 2022 show at Milan Fashion Week.

While luxury brands enlisting celebrity ambassadors is nothing new, a star being invited to explore a house archive and have a hand in actually designing a collection is something else entirely. “I feel like now I know the Versace history inside out, and I feel very lucky that I had the opportunity to dive into all that,” said Dua, who got word that the capsule was going ahead last October and immediately began noting down her ideas. “I started making little sketches… I’d send them to Donatella and be like, what do you think? And I really can’t draw at all! But we have such a common language… we were able to bounce ideas [off each other].”

“Obsessed is the word,” says Dua of the waistcoat dress. Photo: Alfonso Catalano

It was a learning experience not only for Dua Lipa but for Donatella too, the creative director insisted, explaining that the singer brought valuable insight into how Gen-Z wants to interpret archive looks in a contemporary way. “To have a voice outside of my team come and tell me how she sees Versace is so important,” she told press in Cannes. “Dua represents the woman of today: she’s confident, strong, and she has the ability to influence people – not just because she’s famous, but because of her values.”

The “comfortable but sassy” coords combine two archive Versace prints. Photo: Alfonso Catalano

The La Vacanza collection, which will be available to shop immediately after the runway show (“You want it instantly,” Dua said. “If the weather’s nice we want to get dressed up and look cute”), combines Versace signatures with some recognisable hallmarks of the singer’s style. “The butterfly is something we connected on very early on,” said Dua of the recurring motif, which flutters over miniskirts and alights delicately on the straps of stiletto sandals. “It’s fun, it’s flirty.”

A shimmering one-shoulder dress with a turquoise ombré effect takes inspiration from Versace’s metal mesh. “We’re trying to create the very classic Versace metal mesh identity, but [make it] a bit more accessible,” said Dua. (“A younger person cannot spend all that money,” Donatella chimed in.) Elsewhere, a mix of two archive house prints appears on a pair of polka-dot capri pants with a matching bra top and bomber jacket. “I love this,” Dua said. “You can feel comfortable and also really sassy at the same time.”

Dua and Donatella came up with a more accessible answer to Versace’s signature metal mesh. Photo: Alfonso Catalano

Other La Vacanza pieces to look out for? Dua described a waistcoat dress that is particularly close to her heart. “Obsessed is the word. I’m very, very excited for that dress.” Her co-designer, meanwhile, would not be drawn on her personal favourites from a collection she says is all about “freedom and confidence”. “I cannot wear all of it but I love all of it,” said Donatella. “Dua? She can wear all of it!”

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