It’s been two days since Donatella Versace presented her pre-fall collection in Cannes, a collaboration with the pop star Dua Lipa titled La Vacanza, and we’re still thinking about the pink power suits, the Barbie bouffant hairdos, and the shiny metallic leathers and crystal embellishments. Now, we get to see how the collection came together, with a short documentary that captures the iconic duo’s creative process, from meeting in Los Angeles to go over sketches, shooting the campaign in Ibiza, and casting in Cannes the days before the show. What emerges in the mini-documentary is proof of a real friendship between the Italian designer and the singer.
“Amore!” They two greet each other as Versace arrives on set in Ibiza and knocks on Dua’s dressing room. “I was this close to coming out naked for you,” the pop singer adds, laughing, motioning towards the camera. “I’m glad I didn’t.” Only true friends, of course, understand the inherent humour in surprise nude attacks. Discussing the shoes in the collection the two speak as in a play: “And flat shoes?” Donatella asks rhetorically at one point. “None!” They both reply in unison, giggling, letting us in on a bit of their personal jokes.
During a press conference the morning of the show Versace said, “I can wear some things, but Dua can wear everything in the collection.” If there was any proof needed that Lipa was both maker and muse, the collection sketches mounted on boards during the pair’s meeting in Los Angeles all had the British-Albanian singer’s visage. “Dua has an amazing understanding of her fans and her incredible audience and what they will like,” Donatella said via email. “My favourite part is working with someone I really respect and admire and having fun with the codes of Versace; making them relevant for this generation.”
The admiration is mutual, naturally. “Working on this collection was a dream, period!” Dua confirms in an email. “There is no better partner than Donatella. She was so supportive of me throughout this process and gave me the confidence to freely express my ideas, from the early stages of sketching looks to executing the final runway show.”
Dua has long been a fan of the label, and her knowledge of everything Versace is likely another reason why this was a dream collaboration for her. “There’s a 1993 Versace campaign featuring Naomi Campbell and Kristen McMenamy that I drew inspiration from for my music video for ‘New Rules,’ she reveals. “In the image, Kristen is carrying Naomi on her back. I loved the idea of these two legendary women looking after each other like that, holding each other up.” The ad campaign is from spring ’93, the same season that featured bold black and white polka dots that Dua and Donatella turned into one of the key prints for La Vacanza, remixed with the label’s iconic butterfly print.
First used in Gianni Versace’s spring 1995 collection, the butterfly is a motif which the pop star has worn throughout the years; it also seems to hold a special significance. In the middle of their final fitting and casting for the collection in Cannes, Donatella shared a touching anecdote. “After my brother passed away, at the first Versace show without him, there was this white butterfly,” she said softly, letting the meaning of her words linger around each sentence fragment. “You know, in Milano, backstage…we didn’t get butterflies.” She continued, “It flew and flew and flew. We all thought it was Gianni.” He would’ve loved Dua Lipa.
This article was originally published on Vogue.com.