After topless coup, Madonna returns as face of Versace

US pop star Madonna making a statement on Nov 28, 2014, after her meeting with Malawi's President, Professor Peter Mutharika, at the Kamuzu Palace in the Capital Lilongwe.The Versace fashion house announced on Dec 4, 2014, that it has chosen Madonna,
US pop star Madonna making a statement on Nov 28, 2014, after her meeting with Malawi's President, Professor Peter Mutharika, at the Kamuzu Palace in the Capital Lilongwe.The Versace fashion house announced on Dec 4, 2014, that it has chosen Madonna, for the fourth time since 1995, as the face of its advertising campaign for spring/summer 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP

ROME (AFP) - Madonna, still toned at 56 and riding a wave of acclaim for a recent topless photo shoot, was named Thursday as the face of Versace's spring/summer 2015 collection.

Extending a long-standing relationship with the Italian fashion house, the American singer was snapped for the new campaign by photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, who captured her in black and white, standing showing off her lean frame and sitting poised on the edge of a chair.

"Madonna is one of the true icons of Versace," designer Donatella Versace said in a statement.

"I am thrilled to have my friend and the most powerful and directional artist as the face of Versace for Spring 2015," she said.

Decked out in a laser-cut leather dress, Madonna shoots the viewer a smouldering look framed by the flowing blonde locks seen on previous Versace faces, from Lady Gaga to Christina Aguilera.

She is starring in the luxury brand's campaigns for the fourth time since 1995, taking over the baton for this season from Lady Gaga.

The Versace deal comes hot on the heels of Madonna's topless appearance in the December edition of Interview magazine, which has been greeted with acclaim and interpreted as an act of empowerment for women in their 50s.

However, in Malawi, where Madonna was recently appointed a goodwill ambassador and which is home to her adopted two children, some were uncomfortable with the photos.

The southern African nation of 16 million is deeply conservative and religious.

"She needs to tone down her image if she is to represent Malawi," said human rights activist Billy Mayaya.