Donatella Versace has a thing or two to teach the youngsters—and a few of the oldsters—about how to bring back the eighties. She hit that spot with a tour-de-force performance in the corsetry department of her show. First came a high-waist girdle-bikini, then boned basques set into liquid jersey, followed by shiny full-metal dresses with sharply faceted bras.

There's a difference, though, between flagging up a trend for the sake of a showstopper and making clothes a woman can put on without excruciating agony or ridicule. Versace solved that with technology: The robo-woman metal shards are actually plastic. On the body, they weigh nothing. With that, she sealed the collection with a well-wrought Versace stamp, glancing at the past, but reflecting forward into the now.

The rest of the show—which steered clear of eighties theming—reinforced the feeling that Donatella is moving things on. Having personally reached a point of clarity and good health, she is working Versace toward a new sense of reality. The daywear dealt out the current short cocoon shapes and Empire dresses in a pared-back way. Even the prints—wavy, oversized seventies graphics—seemed relatively restrained. Compared to the scattered and sometimes slapdash performances of past seasons, this looked like another step toward reclaiming authority for the house founded by Gianni Versace. The figures concur, and that's credit to the emergence of his sister's womanly point of view.