Despite showing on the Paris couture schedule for nigh-on two decades, the house of Versace was never really an haute couture maison. It's in the name: maison implies soignee French elegance, something with lots of dove grey, plaster mouldings and well-dressed women speaking in hushed tones. Donatella Versace couldn't design a little grey dress if you put a gun to her head. As for the Casa that Gianni built - there's no whispering between them walls.
Versace's return to the haute couture schedule, however, was something of a quiet affair - no gargantuan catwalk over the Ritz swimming pool, no Klieg lights or front row celebrities. Not even a front row, in fact - Atelier Versace presented their latest collection to a standing audience, and early on the first day of couture to boot.
That's probably as quiet as it got, as the Supermodels - or rather their modern-day counterparts of Karlie, Abby and Lindsey - descended a bank of gold stairs like an altar. Versace is about worship after all - not of the label, or of beauty, but of glamour. That's really what the house was really built on, and it's what continues to inspire Donatella today. Glamour for Versace 2012 is a siren gown of platinum lace, a burnished cluster of roses running down an evening sheath, a bustier in a sulphur yellow so smouldering it almost seemed volcanic. They may not be a maison, but as far as couture goes Versace was up amongst the hautest of haute.
Evidently, Casa Versace is not about daywear - Donatella tried her hand at that, but the embroidery crusted zip-up biker jackets and thigh-high booties she came out with ended up looking like Dolly Parton off-duty. They are never what people flocked to Versace for, however. What people come to Versace for is that glam-factor, the million-dollar, billion-crystal embellished dresses the house has always excelled at. Versace's Atelier line may have been off the schedule, but it's also been working flat out to keep starlets in spangles. There was no doubting the strength of the line today: that evening wear hit the mark again, and again.
Despite playing to house strengths, this Atelier Versace collection wasn't retrospective by any means: Donatella embedded shards of metal across her sequin and bead-encrusted dresses, delineating a hip or echoing a cinched waist with glinting metal. A taste of Mugler? Never forget that while Thierry was trussing women in metallic Michelin Man bodysuits Gianni was draping them with chainmail. They're both space vixens, Versace just always did it sexier. That's exactly what we came to pay homage to today - that enduring legacy of potent, powerful sex-appeal that imbues the very best of Versace with an indefinable oomph. Certainly worth erecting an altar to.