Wednesday, July 8, 2009

United in grief - and Versace

getty via daylife

It's a family that has spent 40 years in the spotlight. And yet these are the images that may remain the most deeply-etched in our minds of the Jackson clan: young, old, black, white, high-profile, low-profile - and, in the case of Michael Jackson’s children, finally unmasked before the world - as all were united in grief onstage at LA's Staples Center, following the two-hour celebration of the life of their fallen brother, father and son. And as it emerges, the entire family was dressed in custom-made Versace. With extraordinary media coverage of the event – which, in online terms alone, saw a web traffic surge of 30 percent and broke Yahoo and Facebook records - it was a powerful brand statement for the Italian luxury brand. But just what was the Versace/Jackson connection?

getty via daylife

In Style, which broke the news, reported that Janet Jackson made a personal request to Donatella Versace , “as a tribute to one of her brother’s favorite designers, the late Gianni Versace” - who died on July 15, 1997, coincidentally, also at the age of 50.

Versace dressed many celebrities both on and off the stage and to be sure, Michael ‘King of Bling’ Jackson would have been right up Versace’s flashy, and often trash-glam, alley.

But after doing a little digging frockwriter was fascinated to learn that the celebrity trajectory of the Versace brand – which has embraced the biggest names in showbusiness, from Elton John to Madonna – appears to have in fact originated with Jackson.

According to a 2003 story in WWD, Gianni Versace’s very first celebrity tie-in was in 1983, when he outfitted Jackson and Paul McCartney for the video of their Say Say Say duet (below).

Jackson himself never appeared in any Versace campaigns – as has Madonna.

However in 1996, Jackson’s ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley was shot by Mario Testino for Atelier Versace and Versace Jeans Couture campaigns.

The chic styling of the Jackson clan at yesterday's memorial may have reminded some fashionwatchers of an editorial spread called Silent that was shot by Steven Meisel for the August 2008 edition of Vogue Italia (see slideshow below).

A tribute to the late Yves Saint Laurent who had died two months earlier, the story was set in a graveyard at a fictitious funeral and featured a cast of "grieving" models, including 1980s icon - and Gianni Versace fave - Linda Evangelista.

Two of the models, coincidentally, wore a beret and wide-brimmed fedora, not unlike those worn yesterday by Janet and Latoya Jackson.


Tara said...

Im in year 12 and i would love to be a fashion journalist at any fashion magazines and I am very unsure as to which course i will undertake next year. I am considering going to UTS and was thinking of studying maybe journalism, fashion or writing and cultural studies (and do my major project on fashion maybe). I would love if you could offer any suggestions as to which is preferred or suitable in this industry?

Michelle said...

What a GREAT post. I didn't want to stop reading. Thank you Patty!

Rebecca said...

your fashion knowlegde is a treasure trove, patty. say say say is my favourite MJ song. Love that jumper.

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