It makes sense that 2018 was the year we became obsessed with the late ‘80s-early ‘90s: They were the years that created, in many ways, the culture we live in today—fashion included.
Gianni Versace, who conceived the aesthetic of the mistresses (and misters) of Roman Gods, and his pop culture references, sexuality, celebrity influencers, and high-profile ad campaigns are as popular today as they were when he founded his empire in 1978. Google revealed that the late designer was the top trending fashion topic in the UK this year. This was in large part due to the FX series The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story because our lurid, obsessive love of true crime continues. But I think it was also because 2018 was the year of wild west vibes and 1,000,000 high/low collaborations, and no one set the tone for those style tropes like Gianni Versace.
During a year when America’s political and social climate felt under great duress, we wanted to look for an escape—it was a year when the return of maximalism peaked, when we wanted to channel our inner cowboy, when we wanted to do (and wear) the most. It was a year, as Vanessa Friedman wrote, of designers bringing back their greatest hits. This month, Versace’s first show in America, fittingly at the American Stock Exchange, was a pure, fun tribute to Gianni’s most iconic designs.
There was the famous safety-pin gown from Versace’s 1994 show and the green palm-tree-print chiffon dress that J.Lo wore to the 2000 Grammys, inventing Google Image Search in the process. I think that’s oddly fitting for what this past year felt like: a very lengthy Google Image Search session examining and blending nostalgic pop culture references, past scandals, and old designer collections, all while reevaluating celebrities and powerful figures.
2018 was a year of looking back to see what happened, and may 2019 be a year of going forward. After all, as Versace once said in a New York Times interview, “I am not interested in the past, except as the road to the future.” It would seem that if he were here today, he’d be looking ahead—even if the future still held some Greek key trim.