Donatella Versace can relate to the cross-generational appeal of punk. Her brother Gianni frequently referenced it (remember that famous safety-pin dress), and for fall, she revisited the 30-year-old style as a kind of house classic. Strangely enough, it worked as a perfect medium for dressing the chic modern mom. As proved by the soundtrack—Chrissie Hynde at her gritty best—age cannot dim the spirit of the hardcore rock chick, and this show translated that attitude into some great daywear.

Donatella is not the first to try shredding the edges of tartan, but her plaid suits, in combinations of red and white, purple and black, or yellow and white, had a fierceness of cut that was pure Versace. And with their back-combed chignons and dark glasses, her women can throw a cashmere cardigan over a houndstooth sheath (complete with sparkling brooch) and make it look a million miles from frumpy. That in itself was a cheering sight in a season that poses many potential styling problems for the grown-up woman: classy, but just sexy enough to show you ain't retired yet.

By comparison, Versace's eveningwear was more predictable, with the photo-op possibilities ranging from several slashed black dresses to the anatomically sliced red finale. Though these will be much in evidence on the red carpet in coming weeks, it's the strong daywear that's likely to pull in new customers for the house.