Schoolgirl chic with a naughty edge was a strong theme throughout Gianni Versace’s Autumn/Winter 1994-95 collection. Statuesque supermodels Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, and Nadja Auermann walked the runway clad in shiny, candy-colored miniskirts paired with fuzzy, belly-baring turtleneck sweaters and Empire waist vinyl dresses with peek-a-boo midriffs. According to WWD, the “collection included hardly an outfit that wouldn't get a girl expelled."1 The aggressive sexuality showcased in these garments was a trademark of Versace's work. According to fashion historian Richard Martin, "Versace seized the streetwalker's bravado and conspicuous wardrobe, along with her blatant, brandished sexuality, and introduced them into high fashion."2
This collection also featured Versace's version of the two-piece suit, that practical mainstay of a working woman’s wardrobe. With short skirts and motorcycle-style jackets in slick, shiny, colorful leather, the suits were a provocative take on a wardrobe staple. In Versace’s hands, this typically demure ensemble was fashioned for the street, not the boardroom. The FIDM Museum is fortunate to own a red alligator-printed leather suit from this collection. In video footage of the runway presentation, this suit, along with a yellow version, appear at 6:40.
The plasticine surfaces Versace showcased in his A/W 1994-95 collection were quickly appropriated by other clothing designers. In September 1994, about 6 months after the collection went down the runway, Vogue noted the similarity between a Versace alligator-printed red leather trench coat and a lower-priced trench produced by ABS.3 Appearing several months after Versace introduced his red leather trench, the ABS version was clearly "inspired" by Versace. The ABS trench retailed at Macy's, Bloomingdale's and Saks Fifth Avenue. Gianni Versace didn't comment on the similarities between the two trench coats, perhaps because his work had recently experienced a flurry of knock-offs due to the popularity of the revealing safety-pinned Versace dress Elizabeth Hurley wore to a film premiere early in 1994.
1 “Milan: Short and Sassy.” WWD 1 Mar. 1994: 17.
2 Martin, Richard. Gianni Versace. Metropolitan Museum of Art: London. 1998: 12.
3 Betts, Katherine. "Up Front: Copy Rites" Vogue 1 Sept. 1994: 148.