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Versace taps legacy talent for theatric end-of-year offering

January 3, 2023

Photo of Lily McMenamy for Versace Supermodel Kristen McMenamy played Gianni Versace's muse throughout the 1990s — in a modern twist, her daughter Lily now embraces the Medusa motif for the brand's latest. Image credit: Versace


Italian fashion label Versace is embracing dramatic effect this season.

The newly-released narrative features a colorful cast of characters appearing in their respective elements, both on stage and off. Through the art of performance, the crew manages to ode the house’s deep appreciation for theater and the arts.

“High-Versace drama”
The high sentimental value surrounding seasonal marketing efforts requires luxury brands to push products in a manner authentic to a strong set of core values.

Versace’s release — a holiday tribute that stays true to the brand’s DNA — fulfills this calling, and arrives just in time for end-of-year festivities.

Supermodel Kristen McMenamy played Gianni Versace's muse throughout the 1990s — in a modern twist, her daughter Lily now embraces the Medusa motif for the brand's latest. The new-age English talent heads to the theater for some “High-Versace drama” in a new video.

Quick in total duration, the 1-minute clip starts in a set bedroom. The star abruptly awakens to the realization that she is running late for a very important date, as tonight, in Versace’s universe, marks an opera show.

True to form, Greca Bar bedding ornaments the initial scene. The gold accent follows through to a set worn by Ms. McMenamy, black, and of matching pattern the sports bra’s border, same as a matching pair of underwear and a robe, thrown overtop.

Versace's holiday spectacle features orchestral ornamentation

Versace’s guest dons the look of leisure in stilettos, of course — facets of dramatic flair begin early.

Next, the glossy-haired heroine makes a pivot, grabbing her Greca Goddess handbag, its chain hitting the bag’s body in light of the swift motion. Suspense builds, as the beauty attempts to get to the presentation in one piece.

Briefly, the shadow of an orchestral collective appears in view, instruments abound, before scenes switch once more to find Ms. McMenamy fretting towards the front of the venue in a red Versace gown with a train of light material, perhaps organza, and presumably custom-made couture.

Grecian columns adorn an entryway. Christmas lights make for a sight to see.

Supporting models soon appear as the campaign star makes her way inside. The first couple to be spotted don hot pink ready-to-wear — a Medusa Biggie Velvet Hoodie Jumpsuit and Medusa Biggie Velvet Crop Hoodie make waves.

After the chance encounter, Ms. McMenamy dashes down venue halls in search of something or someone, amid a shot where shades of red compliment each other — garb and carpet briefly unite.

The excerpt’s characters get stranger by the minute.

In one frame, a mime bows for the protagonist as he practices against the script in hand. In another, a trio pauses their box-seated conversation to eye the model up and down, in response to her intrusion.

Versace holiday 2022 - opera shot Throwing herself against the barrier of a high-level balcony, the grandiose nature of the spherical space’s interior is revealed as the talent turns to the stage. Image credit: Versace

With persistence, Ms. McMenamy finally finds an opening leading to the space's grandiose atrium. She turns her attention to the stage, where a subject suddenly appears.

American drag performer Gottmik plays Versace’s conductor — a baton flies through the air in a set of gloved, Versace-clad hands. Ms. McMenamy continues with her mission, running off before hitting a grand set of doors that allow for stage access.

The model quickly discovers where she has landed herself.


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The silhouettes of those she has encountered along her journey appear beside her atop pedestals of varying heights.

An audience cheers. Clapping enhance the soundtrack as Ms. McMenamy basks in the light of the opera.

In a final frame, an alarm rings out and the belle of the ball finds herself back in bed. Viewers are brought back to the video’s beginning, suggesting a dream state was at play for this plot.

Versace’s logo flashes, signaling the asset’s conclusion.

Holiday cheer and heritage
Strategically, the use of a familiar face can help to impart this level of emotion. Hence, and missing from much recent discussion regarding the topic of “nepo-babies” is the exploration of the reasons backing their appeal.

Realistically, the use of familiar faces offers an unmatched level of nostalgia.

Last year, despite debate around the effectiveness and engagement of celebrity ambassadors versus digitally-native creators across sectors (see story), ever-fluctuating algorithms (see story) and newcomers yielding influences of their own (see story), luxury still leaned into the tactic, proving to some extent that campaigns featuring celebrity kids come bearing gifts — elevated levels of comfortability, in this case.

Image of McQueen's new Slash Bag A fashion figure with influence, model Kaia Gerber, daughter of American supermodel Cindy Crawford, fronted many a luxury campaign in 2022. Image credit: Alexander McQueen

For Versace's latest, though, a relatively fresh face takes on that assignment.

The model fills her mother’s shoes in the act of doing holiday the Versace way — the connection between talent and house, past and present, is active but subtle, as the younger McMenamy’s status does not overtake the sales task at hand.

For other brands, the draw of using famous offspring becomes digital. The popularity of these figures often carries through to social platforms, offering high metrics amid other new potential sales channels for brands.

As experts have expressed, talents are willing to use their platforms for money and credentialing in an attempt to “earn their spot” in the spotlight. Meanwhile and brands are willing to pay hefty fees to get in on this expanded level of notoriety.

Thus, in many cases, luxury's patterned casting choice become all the more clear.