A criticism leveled at many designers this season is that they're designing seasonless clothes - winter, spring, summer, all melded into one temperate, climate-controlled and timeless global season. Donatella Versace is evidently having none of it - she's never really done the middle ground, and when spring/summer swings around she relishes the opportunity for her Versace girl to bare some flesh.
Oddly, then, for S/S 2011, Donatella's focus was resolutely below the knee. The big, old-fashioned story of this show, were the skirt lengths - for the most part, hovering at mid-calf. A dodgy spot for many, Versace made them work by tugging them dangerous close to the body, more Monroe than Matriarch with a sexy wiggle.
If that was a touch of retro-sexy, the rest of the collection was Versace in hyper-modern mode. There was a feel of Courrèges to much of the suiting, in bright space-age white spliced with inserts of bright patent, or even windows of transparent PVC revealing slashes of flesh. Colours were acid-bright - lapis blue, tomato-red, white, black, and mud - albeit a tanned, tawny perfected nude, the colour of fresh supermodel flesh circa 1992. Indeed, there was more than a touch of early nineties Versace to this offering, not least the resurrection of Versace's Greco-Roman key as the collection's major decorative motif.
A nifty catchphrase is Sci-Fi baroque, with that signature Versace meander print spanning midriffs, scrawled in leather applique across wool crepe dresses or scrambled into a print or intarsia knit like a mangled photoshop experiment. Those were the stand-out pieces, a touch of signature Versace exuberance given a cyberspace twist without losing any of their energy, sometimes fading into focus on a shoulder, dribbling down a bodice or cleanly slicing a waistband (a neat reference to the trademark woven-elastic of Versace underwear). Donatella contained them for the most part - she was evidently trying to go minimal this season - but towards the end surrendered to her instinct for excess, and letting them run riot on a series of sharp dresses sliced well above the knee. Good decision. Popping with those jarring primary shades and vibrating with fringe that exploded in motion like a magically pixelated image, they had a raw Gladiatorial power that put everything else this season in the shade.