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PARIS Spring 2004

Ever since the late Gianni Versace took on the mission of revolutionizing la moda with an infusion of innovative genius, the Versace house has been pushing the limits of risqué glamour. The Spring 2004 collection showcased in Milan on October 4th is no exception. Donatella's creations of vibrant color, inventive design and pure spectacle dazzled a star-studded audience. As Linda Evangelista, symbolizing the explosive glitz and exuberance of the 80's, strutted down the catwalk clad in a pulsating floral trench coat colored tiger lily, vista blue and hothouse citrus, Versace's message was as bold as ever. If fashion is an art form that comes to life on the canvas of the runway, then Donatella is a true master of vivid, multihued paintings.

Though the confident and colorfully rich essence of the collection dominated the limelight, the appearance of cool, fine, uncluttered white suits provided the audience with a moment of refined, graceful sophistication. Another one of my favorite looks for the summer by Versace was the dazzling white ultra-feminine silky evening dress modeled by the beautiful Frankie Ryder. It had a deep V-shaped halter neckline, a wide inset band under the bust, a flared skirt and a deep, central inverted pleat.

But timeless classic elegance is not Versace's home turf; their name is synonymous with extravagant audacity. Versace is all about the allure of exhilarating magic, and indeed clothes closely aligned with that fantasy aspect of fashion constituted the core of the new collection. Amongst that category I fancied a stunning pink frilly gown with a plunging décolleté, a hip-high side slit and a long train (all trimmed with chiffon ruffles.) Trust me: if worn over a deliciously curvaceous body and carried with a sly smile accompanied by lots of attitude, this dress would simply annihilate the male defenses. If that is the effect you're looking to produce, your destination is clear. Go Italian!

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