The long-fragile haute couture industry will be short a runway show in its upcoming seasons: Versace has decided to sit out Couture Week, according to a release from the Italian label.
Atelier Versace, which is not based in France, is a correspondent member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture rather than an official couturier. Still, its absence will be keenly felt, as Versace typically held the opening slot each season and brought in high-profile models like Gigi and Bella Hadid, Irina Shayk and Karlie Kloss. Instead of couture shows, Versace says it will focus on a "client-facing strategy" around the world, hosting private presentations accompanied by "elegant cocktail receptions and dinners."
It sounds as though couture is the latest victim of fashion show fatigue; rather than cut Versus Versace or combine menswear and womenswear on one runway to get show numbers down (something Donatella herself said she would never do), the brand has decided it can forgo haute couture.
"At the moment, we do six shows a year, and my feeling is: That's a lot of shows," Chief Executive Jonathan Akeroyd told the New York Times. "Eight, if you count couture, seems excessive. And we all know the model is changing quite a lot, so why not take the opportunity to try something new?"
It's hardly surprising. Red carpets and couture runways often serve the same purpose for high fashion labels: Getting the brand name out there to sell the (relatively) more affordable cosmetics, fragrances, and accessories to the masses. The difference, of course, is that far more people see the red carpet placements on celebrities — a marketing method that can be significantly cheaper than mounting a full runway presentation.
Versace previously skipped couture shows from 2004 to 2012; the release from the brand does not indicate if it might return.