Is elegance essential to haute? Intentionally or otherwise, Donatella Versace posed that question via the Atelier Versace collection she showed on Sunday night to open the spring couture season. Though her program notes referenced an architectural inspiration and the contrast of fragile glass against iron and steel beams, this show was really about one thing: sexy dressing at its most upbeat and unapologetic, whether in whippet-slim pinstripes spliced to reveal skin, pink leather biker-babe fare or a little shift in mink and tulle stripes.

Versace finished with a group of glossy chiffon minis and cutaway gowns that would make for divine photo ops at a glam pool party.

Throughout, her constructions were ultraintricate. The pinstripes were 24-karat gold, complementing gold embroideries elsewhere; the fabric mixes were imaginative — tulle embroidered with latex, patent leather and python; a white mink coat ashine with crystals and plastic insets.

At her best, Versace delivers the house sizzle with a sense of refinement that goes beyond skill of construction. This time, the intensity of flash and flagrant fun, not themselves elements to be scoffed at, challenged the notion of haute classification, though ultimately, that’s the client’s call to make.

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