The Versace Teatro runway was set with rusting playground equipment, daisies sprouting from the places where the swings and sliding board were planted in real grass. It was an unusual scenario to encounter chez Donatella, and then the recess bell rang and it got even stranger. Out walked the first model, playing against Versus type in a red, blue, yellow, and black plaid button-down tucked into matching jeans, accessorized with pointy-toed flats and a schoolkid's leather backpack. She could've been the teacher's pet. Quickly, though, it became apparent that there was nothing goody-goody about the Versus girl this season. The second outfit was that same plaid, but in the style of the fab cutout minidresses that made a big impact at last February's show; the fifth was plaid again, but ruched into a below-the-knee, sexy, body-hugging dress.

What followed played out with such impressive precision, you'd swear that Donatella Versace and her design sidekick, Christopher Kane, had been working in tandem a lot longer than three seasons. Look by look, florals entered the plaid picture, until the stretchy dresses were a patchwork of tiny flower prints. Then the process repeated, first with graphic stripes (picture a bandage-tight polo and hobble skirt with a cardigan tossed over the shoulders) and finally, color-blocking. We counted at least six different shades on one flippy little number.

At the end, they had the girls in the plaid back by the slide, and the color-blocked party dresses up by the spinning chair. "It's Village of the Damned," Kane laughed backstage. "Or clones." More like the cool girls that you always wanted to be. He said he and Versace found most of the prints in the Versus archives; they just upped the colors and added stretch mesh, as well as elongated the silhouettes, "to make it more today." He got that right. Kane and Versace nailed the trends and the brand-heritage thing—and, most importantly, came up with some dresses that girls are going to fight each other to wear first.