Donatella Versace paid tribute to Prince this weekend, playing a selection of unreleased music at her men’s spring/summer 17 show in Milan. Versace, a close friend of the musician, revealed that she possesses an entire archive of previously unheard tracks, describing them as “his way of communicating” over the years. “It was my privilege to be able to share them with my audience,” she told Billboard. “The biggest tribute you can pay [Prince] is to play his music, and to keep his memory alive.”

Featuring an 11-minute instrumental mix — including an alternative version of 1986 classic “Kiss” — the show bore more than a passing sartorial nod to the late musician, with Versace herself taking to the runway in particularly Prince-like, black, ruffled blouse. “I love men who can dress beyond rules and codes,” she says. “Prince set his own rules and did what he wanted — he wore high heels, showed his body, chose strong color, did whatever pleased him. He loved to play with fashion, to provoke and shock. I was in awe of him, always.”

Prince, who passed away at 57 this April, was famously photographed by Richard Avedon for the late Gianni Versace, before the designer’s own untimely death in 1997. With executors of the musician’s estate reportedly planning several outlets for new material, including a Broadway musical and a Cirque du Soleil show, Donatella Versace hopes that the fashion community continues to embrace this most flamboyant of performers.

“Prince showed men how they could use clothing to express themselves, to make a statement, to be bold,” she says. “He showed men to not take themselves so seriously, have fun, and to love life while you can.”

Text Matthew Whitehouse
Photography Mitchell Sams