MILAN, ITALY [JANUARY 17, 2015] – “Versace stripped,” Donatella declared dramatically before her show. “No decoration, no color, no print. Just the soul of Versace: silhouette and cut.” She envisaged the collection as a kind of ground zero, leveling the playing field for the future. It wasn’t quite that radical, but it was certainly a step away from excess and ambiguity and gladiatorial camp, as Versace’s menswear eases on down the rocky road to a stable identity.

The color palette was a banquet of soothing neutrals. For all the designer’s insistence on cut, it was softness that dominated. A hooded mink coat and a Mongolian lamb backpack were its most extreme manifestations. Otherwise, jacquard-ed blousons and parkas had the comfy look and feel of blankets. “Comfy…but sexy,” Donatella insisted—though not as sexy as the body-conscious cashmere knitwear in long cabled cardigans and even longer rib-knit tops, layered over leggings. The look was lean and athletic with a touch of Peter Pan, but it took on an impressive masculine heft with oversize outerwear. And the tailoring was similarly balanced, between single-button jackets and Charlie Chaplin pants—utility and aesthetics. When there weren’t buttons, the jackets closed with metal clasps, a futuristic touch that worked quite well with the slightly sci-fi quality of those layered knits.

The hard edge that had been stripped from the clothes was off-loaded onto the set, with Versace’s Medusa head deconstructed into an abstract industrial grid. Stripped and striking, but still you found yourself wondering: Whither Versace menswear?

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