"Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain."

With that quote in her press release, Donatella Versace was surely the only designer to ever draw the late literary bruiser Norman Mailer into fashion's infinitely accepting web. But Mailer would have blanched at the way Donatella window-dressed his macho notion as a panoply of models in mad-funny parodies of ultra-butchness. She opened her show with a vision that evoked self-made man Jay Gatsby in his correspondent shoes and oversize Prince of Wales checks. Then she turned Jay into the twenty-first-century self-made man, running hellish riot in graffiti-ed suitings and skins.

Donatella said she wanted to impress power on her audience. Hence the exaggerated volumes of her clothes. But a suit in a classic windowpane check that had been defaced with punk-style scrawls pointed to something stranger. When she showed jackets with sleeves pushed up, or baggy leather pants snapped at the ankle, or a motocross outfit outlined in gold zippers, Donatella was challenging the borders of taste. It was a small step from that to parading a studly young guy in black lace lingerie. He was also wearing an evening jacket and bike boots, which compounded the ambiguity. Challenging conventional notions of sexuality was something of a Versace signature in the golden days. Donatella just found new ink for her pen.