The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story Recap: Season 2, Episode 7, “Ascent”

One highlight of this Ryan Murphy-produced take on the criminal drama surrounding the death of famed fashion designer Gianni Versace has been one Ms Penélope Cruz. It’s been a delight to see the Spanish actress intermittently show up as Donatella Versace with her striking platinum hair and outfits to match. In this latest episode, which still mostly centers on Andrew Cunanan’s backstory, we get to see how Gianni’s brush with death has him planning for a day when he won’t be at the helm of the business anymore. He’s encouraged his sister to work closely with him in an upcoming collection though he explodes when he sees she’s not really pushing herself as a designer. Not only were we glad to see Penélope and Édgar Ramírez back at it tenderly sniping at each other as the Versace siblings but seeing the two recreate the infamous bondage dress they showcased at Vogue’s 100th Anniversary Party was just divine. Mostly because Cruz looked amazing strutting her stuff in the leather, belted dress.

Courtesy of FX

Talking to InStyle about the show’s wardrobe and their work with Cruz, costume designer Allison Leach noted how precise the actress wanted to be when it came to playing Donatella. And with the fashion house adamantly uninvolved with the series and actual Versace pieces going for the thousands on eBay, Leach and her fellow designer Lou Eyrich knew they had to get creative. Thankfully, it sounds like Cruz was very involved in the process. “She also really wanted to project the gravitas of the situation, so she did wear a lot of black, which Donatella did,” Leach told InStyle. “So then the silhouette becomes even more important, and the details, like the perfect Versace belt. Those details really sell it. Penélope likes to wear Versace in her own life and has tremendous respect for the brand, so whenever we’d find some gem, she would get so excited and say, ‘Can I keep this?!'”

As we begin nearing the end of this season of American Crime Story we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give Ms Cruz and the show’s costume designers their due. With that in mind, we hereby offer a wholly subjective ranking of the many outfits the Oscar-winning actress has donned as Donatella Versace so far in the show. Spoiler alert: she looks stunning in pretty much every single one of them, surprising no one.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story airs Wednesdays on FX.

7

Down To Business Suit

Even when dressed down to talk business—she wore this when deciding to scrap the idea of making Versace a publicly-traded company, a lifelong dream of Gianni’s—Donatella exudes confidence with the perfect golden flourish. Still, though, compared to everything else Cruz got to wear, this was rather boring.

‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.’ Photo by Jeff Daly. Courtesy of FX

6

Mourning in Turtleneck

In contrast to the popping colors of Miami, and fitting her grief over her recent loss, this black turtleneck/jacket combo is as understated as Donatella gets. Knowing that she’d need to confront Gianni’s “companion” (played by Ricky Martin), the harsh silhouette and combative fabric (doesn’t get more confrontational than shoulder-padded leather) make sense as she tries to assert herself in her brother’s old home.

‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.’ Photo by Jeff Daly. Courtesy of FX

5

The Bondage Dress In The Making

Arguably the highlight of this episode (and of the show’s fashion) is seeing how Gianni and Donatella ended up working together to craft the infamous dress that she ended up wearing to the Vogue’s 100th Anniversary Party back in 1993. Using belts as structural accessories? Genius.

‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.’ Photo by Ray Mickshaw. Courtesy of FX

4

Work It, In Denim

You start noticing a lot about Cruz’s Donatella when you put her outfits together like this: there’s a simplicity to her style that nevertheless gets its understated elegance from pieces that would otherwise be needlessly garish on anyone else or paired with some other outfit. Take those golden buttons, that bold belt and that bracelet. They’re both too much and just enough at the same time. A perfect outfit for making the rounds of your fashion empire.

‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.’ Photo by Suzanne Tenner. Courtesy of FX

3

A Mournful Bride

That is really what she looks like here, no? The veil, the embroidery, the classic and decidedly Italian elegance make Donatella look like she’s a bride in mourning, ready to let out her grief in agonizing wails.

‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.’ Photo by Jeff Daly. Courtesy of FX

2

That Pink Dress

Listen, if you told us this was a picture of Cruz taken at an awards after-party, we’d be inclined to believe you. Sure, we prefer the Spanish actress in her natural dark brown hair, but she’s been known to wow people on the red carpet time and time again, and this dress (which barely got seen in the actual episode) is a stunner. Fit for a fashion queen.

‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.’ Photo by Jeff Daly. Courtesy of FX

1

The Pink Jacket

Donatella serving you bubblegum female executive realness in this gorgeous over-the-top jacket is everything. The rolled-up sleeves say “I’m ready for anything” but the jewelry, which includes golden bracelets, earrings, and a coin/pendant necklace truly remind you that Gianni’s sister was (and still is) a fashion icon who’d never be caught dead without the perfect accessories.

‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.’ Photo by Ray Mickshaw. Courtesy of FX