Sensual rather than sexy—that was the edict for the Versace pre-fall collection. But something clearly got lost in translation, because the clothes had the usual second-skin sass. The design vocabulary of the house is so distinctive that it's a gold standard for the inspirational power of restriction. And here the gold standard was literally that—gold!—in the fringing, in the studs, in the jewelry, and in the gilded rococo embellishment that decked everything from jeans to eveningwear. Gold stars gave a naval flair to jacket cuffs. They were, in fact, from an old Gianni design. But the embroidery was cleverly flattened, so it had an appealing pliability.

Another language Versace has always spoken with great fluency is animalism. The leopard snuck in to these clothes, in the tone-on-tone jacquard of black jeans, or in the print that collaged a whole mess of Versace signatures—baroque, japonaiserie, leopard—together.

The mood of the collection was such a clear repudiation of Donatella's Coachella Spring thing that it was almost as if that free spirit had been ordered back to her urban reality by her purse-strings-wielding daddy. The silhouette was "important," the color palette had a sophisticated edge, and there was fur for days. But if there was some artistry in the tweezer-precise insertion of violet tufts into a mink, it looked dark and decadent, a mind-set away from Spring's feel-good.