Is the Power Suit the New Power Dress? Donatella Versace Thinks So

·Associate Editor
Donatella Versace attends her book signing at Harrod's. (Photo: Getty Images)
Donatella Versace attends her book signing at Harrod’s. (Photo: Getty Images)

Donatella Versace has been at the helm of the Versace label since 1997, so it’s an understatement to say that the lady knows a thing or two about fashion – and being a boss. This weekend, Versace launched the book tour for her aptly named Rizzoli tome, “Versace.” In an interview with WWD, the designer touched on her views on women’s power dressing, and what’s next for Atelier Versace.

“A woman is much more powerful in a suit than in a gown these days,” she said. “I still want to do couture but not necessarily put it on the Web site or on the catwalk. I think it will become more exclusive, I will show it to a small group of people.”

According to stats put out by Lyst, over the past year, pantsuit searches have spiked 460 percent. Polyvore saw a 500 percent increase in searches for the look after the first presidential debate. On election day, pantsuit-clad women went tot he polls in droves to exercise their rights. It’s clear that Ms. Clinton’s sartorial tastes on the election trail have given the pantsuit a moment in pop culture. And if Versace’s comments indicate anything, it’s that the influence of the pantsuit is edging its way into high fashion. Does this mean we’ll be seeing a lot more custom pantsuits with that signature Versace flair from her on the red carpet? Time will tell.

Still, the popularity of the pantsuit is clearly being felt among the fashion set. Celebrity stylist and ANTM judge Law Roach, whose clients include stylish stars like Zendaya and Celine Dion, agrees with Versace’s sentiments, and is a lover of the style. “I’ve always been an advocate for the pantsuit. One of my biggest style inspirations is Bianca Jagger, and I think she was the one who revolutionized that,” he told Yahoo Style over the phone. “I think women are so beautiful in menswear, and you can see that in my work with Zendaya. She’s worn pantsuits multiple times, and that’s something we’ve always done throughout our careers.”

Roach sees old school, more practical sensibilities in Hillary’s suit choices, but he says that the look is easy to update for women looking for something that reads a bit more modern and fashionable, and less like a presidential candidate. “Hillary’s was more of the early 90s power pantsuit, which is something that was done purposefully and intentionally because of the position that she’s in. But for me and the average woman, you can do it in ways that are a bit softer,” he said. “That may come in with the cut and the styling of it, something a little more nipped in at the waist will create a more woman-friendly silhouette than what Hillary did. But I don’t think girls and women should be afraid of it because it’s so cool, and it gives you a little extra oomph. You’re kind of competing with the boys a little bit, showing them how menswear can be worn.”

Roach notes Celine Dion’s backwards Jean Paul Gaultier pantsuit as one of the more memorable pantsuit moments for him, one that he doesn’t think America was yet prepared for. “They destroyed her for that, and I think it was because she was ahead of her time. Had she worn that now, she would have gotten a totally different reaction. I just don’t think people were ready for that in 1999. That look was Fash-ion!”

Pantsuits might be trending when it comes to power looks for women, but Roach sees the style’s increasing popularity as just another example of the versatility of women’s dressing, and how women express their confidence through clothes. “I really think women should and can wear whatever they want. If you wake up and you feel like a pant suit, and tomorrow you feel like it’s a dress, that’s one of the powers of women to make their own decisions and be confident in whatever they wear.”

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