“I love the Fifties couture. For me, it was the most perfect in cut and construction,” said Donatella Versace backstage, just before welcoming Jennifer Lopez, dazzling in bright white.

The Fifties wouldn’t recognize itself.

For the couture collection she showed on Sunday evening, Versace did indeed invoke an elegant line reminiscent of the decade, round-shouldered and strict by day, often abundant with rustling volume by night. Set on modernizing the archetypes of that most elegant of decades, Versace sexed up, toughed up and Gothed up with characteristic bravado.

One could envision many of these clothes on the Miley Cyrus genre of fashion girl, which is to say young, probably famous, probably pop-star-with-an-edge (probably nonpaying). But cool, audacious famous girls are not couture’s core clientele. Of the paying-clients genre, even at Versace they most likely take their Fifties a little more literally.

Versace’s primary ruse was to deconstruct, not in the angsty, undone Belgian sense, but by cutting away fabrics, slicing and twisting while remaining focused on a perfect-fit corseted silhouette. Along the way, a jacket became a diagonally fastened, one-sleeve number; the bodice of a gown presented as half-bustier and half rolled-up T-shirt; a slashed-front column revealed a single trouser leg. Throughout, there were seductress-worthy embroideries, boldly rambunctious patent fringe and a racy kilt motif with skirts and jumpsuits fastened on the hip with double metal buckles.

Ample asymmetry afforded one-sided glimpses of skin, including on a bodysuit-cum-ballgown that seemed caught in identity crises: Am I dominatrix or latter-day deb?

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