The video walls exploded in a kaleidoscope of color, and Amber Valletta, grown-up and gorgeous, strode onto the runway in a swinging psychedelic print cashmere coat shrugged over a white turtleneck and pants. It was the opening shot in a collection in which Donatella Versace proved herself in supreme control of a powerful new classiness.
Color and sexiness are to be expectedeven demandedat Versace. But the surprise was how Donatella delivered on that while showcasing outstanding, couture-standard clothes with a five-star wearability rating. "I wanted to do quality and traditionbut with fun," said the designer. Versace coats are some of the most gorgeous of the season, impeccably cut and with embroidery, quilting or edgings and inserts of leather expertly deployed to emphasize shape. There was casually luxurious fur, sheared inside and out to look like corduroy. Some of the best looks were the collection's most spare: a neon yellow cashmere tank with black flares and a huge black bag, a candy pink double-face coat paired with a tank and lilac pants, even a restrained, oversized black coat, its buttonholes edged in satin, thrown over a plain black pantsuit. There were great bright micro-flower print dresses and the obligatory slit-up-to-there red-carpet evening gowns. But Donatella's knockout punch was putting glamour, color, excitementand, believe it or not, simplicityinto an adult woman's day.