If Donatella Versace brought it all back home to Via Gesù for her men's show in June, it was always going to be the women's show that really underscored her refreshed commitment to the heritage of the house. Guests who remembered skirting security at this very location in her brother Gianni's heyday were positively misty-eyed when they walked into the tented garden where today's presentation took place. And, in keeping with her recent confident exploration of the family archive, Donatella plucked one of the most graphic elements from Versace's past to mark this watershed moment. But she did it her way. The baroque curlicues that were once a house signature were blown up into a single boldly colored detail—a vine, a flower—and dropped onto a shift in black wool crepe. It was simple and strong, exactly what Donatella wanted.

The same boldness shaped a black sheath with a snaky strand of emerald green python coiling around Isabeli Fontana's body. And the snaky-ness was amplified in a python sheath. In fact, the collection reclaimed skins for the house, especially with a midnight leather jacket and matching box-pleated skirt. But what might look most seductive to customers next fall is the military influence. It loaned a short, sharp silhouette to a double-breasted black coat, a white coat-dress, and a gold-buttoned cadet jacket and matching skirt.

These looks were so immediate that they had a curious side effect: The eveningwear that is a Versace mainstay came across as almost an afterthought, bar the final glittering silver column with its trail of white marabou and vampish silent-movie-queen oomph.