There's a very simple formula for success at the house of Versace - sex. It sells, it crosses all language barriers, and you don't need a PHD to understand it. The best Versace collections stick close to that formula: the Versace woman doesn't care about introspection or intellectualisation. If you started to analyse her wardrobe choices within the socioeconomic context of the Western world, she'd just look at you blankly and go search out someone a bit less weird to talk to.
For spring 2012, Versace stuck to that well-established formula. It's a summer collection after all, and Donatella understands stripping off far better than layering up. This time, there was a vague feel of the sea - but when we say vague, we mean the merest whisper of an undersea print dribbled over neoprene, cut into pastel-tone cropped jackets and high-cut hot-pants in neoprene with exaggerated hips. Those sound difficult, and truth be told on most women they probably would be. But we're talking about the Versace woman here, possibly the only one left in the Northern hemisphere confident enough to pad her thighs into a bombshell caricature of mid-century femininity. She also got the chance to flash her toned midriff too, in strapless grommet-scattered bustiers and high-waisted pencil skirts in paper-thin nappa, naturally.
The Miami beach tones of this collection, in the life aquatic prints, neat daytime separates and evening gowns in shades of lilac, ivory and sea-foam green, of course threw us right back to Gianni, as do all Versace's best collections. Its a defining period for the house and an instantly-recognisable aesthetic. Hence here Donatella riffed not only on those faded, chalky colours but also the tight silhouette and Scheherazade of decoration, millions of golden studs (more studs indeed than a Jackie Collins novel) glinting across all that creamy leather in vaguely Deco designs like sunken treasure. Panels of pleated chiffon draped asymmetrically across these to give a little movement, harnessed to the body with yet more studded leather (well, what's the point of doing soft if it doesn't get you a little hard?).
Remember Gianni's infamous comment that he garnered his inspiration from Calabrian hookers touting their wares on the streets outside of his childhood home? That was a fitting explanation for the transparent perspex stripper heels - Christopher Kane, the Versace creative consultant seated front-row, would no doubt have identified them as the 'dodge' factor livening up this collection - and access-all-areas zips running from neck to hem. Those were equally redolent of the ease and streamlined simplicity of wetsuits - maybe not when unzipping ankle-length silk-jersey evening dresses, weighted down with barnacles of crystal slowing the models' progress to that of steamers rather than speedboats. But as lightening closures on the many racy, pacey little mini-dresses that peppered this collection, they were a fitting underline of the sexy, urgent speed that underscored this collection. Maybe glancing back into the house's archives for their upcoming H&M collaboration sharpened Donatella's eye. She certainly wasn't shy of a backwards glance, albeit with tongue in cheek. What that all added up to was a collection in the very best Versace tradition: short, sexy, and just a little bit too much. Which of course is just right.