As far as haute collabs go, it won’t be easy to upstage the Swap, better known as Fendace, the stroke of branding genius masterminded by Donatella Versace and Fendi’s Silvia Venturini Fendi and Kim Jones, which landed to internet-crashing effect in September. Pirouetting across each other’s archives, the fashion trimurti traded off their respective fundamentals in a key-codes crossover which didn’t dilute visual identities or values.

Back to planet Versace for a showroom appointment, pre-fall was given a toning down of the Fendace vibe, a catch of breath of sorts after the collaboration, fueled by Donatella’s inexhaustible energy. According to the design team, the Swap experience was fabulous but rather intense in its making: “It was incredibly amazing,” they said. “They drove us mad, but in a fun way.”

Sitting in stores alongside the Fendace collection, pre-fall reads as a visual antidote to the bold impact of the show’s print overload. A magnified black and white incarnation of the Barocco motif was introduced, as proof of the vitality of the house’s archive. Explaining her take on the collection, Donatella hinted at the unapologetic embracing of challenges and reinventions that drives her work ethos. “Whoever said that it cannot be black and white? I see creativity as an opportunity and a way of looking at things you’ve known all your life from another perspective, transforming them into something new that, like a scent, reminds you of past emotions, but they’re now completely connected and rooted in the present moment.”

Without softening much the sassy early 2000s vibe of the Swap, a sexy, slinky silhouette was the collection’s standout, with stretchy jersey dresses pierced by keyholes at the neckline, and flashes of lingerie strings peeking out at the hips from low-slung stretchy pencil skirts, or jutting out at the décolletage of plunging v-necks. Strict-tailored skirt suits and coats were nip-waisted, small-shouldered, and almost severe yet very sexy, a territory that Versace navigates rather deftly. And responsibly-sourced vegan Latex looked no less than luscious on a not-so-bourgeois baby pink trench coat, and body-hugging black midi dresses and midriff-baring top/skirt combinations, paired with matching boots/stockings hybrids. Evening at Versace is always a glamorous affair played out to maximum wattage; cases in point here were the black numbers made in illusion net sparkling with bejeweled fan-shaped inserts and brooches, and further studded with a cascade of rhinestones and crystals in all possible shapes and sizes. The wallflower notion is lost chez Versace.

The black and white Barocco print served as a visual binder between the women’s and men’s collections. It was treated imaginatively on classic tailored suits, where formal fabrics like flannel, Prince of Wales, houndstooth, and windowpane checkered wools were overprinted with curlicue motifs, highlighted with metallic outlines. On the same note, an oversized puffer and matching boxy shirt and surfer shorts were laminated in silver that was corroded and peeled off. Although it screamed Versace in all its peacocking glory, it highlighted a moving away from the streetwear and loungewear wave towards a more elevated, luxurious energy. What Donatella seems to be enjoying now is an unapologetic return to fashion à go-go, no holds barred.