Making a dramatic return to the runways after an eight-year hiatus, Donatella Versace unveiled a very Grecian-inspired spring/summer 2012 haute couture collection in Paris last month. The Italian designer, who is known as much for her ultra-tanned, surgically enhanced appearance as she is her inimitable style, found her inspiration for this new line by climbing Mount Olympus.

Considering her biggest complaint about rehab – where she went to kick her 18-year cocaine addiction – was having to ditch the stilettos, one can’t help but wonder if the designer conquered Mount Olympus in a fierce pair of platforms. The runway show, accompanied by the voice of Greek legend Maria Callas singing an aria from Tosca, marked the designer’s return to haute couture week, following a lucrative collaboration with mass market fashion retailer H&M last year.

Critics agree it was worth the wait; the gowns in the collection are pure Grecian drama combining steely chromes and metallics with a summer palette of citrus hues.

Versace classics were revisited and given an Aphrodite-like twist as impossibly beautiful, towering models with severe, long ponytails and dramatic eye make-up embodied the Grecian goddess look, parading the collection in sky-scraping, gladiator-style heels. A one-shouldered, shimmering, floor-sweeping gown in bold orange reinvented ancient Grecian style, while column gowns in steely greys with intricate beading brought Greek architecture to life. Chrome and gold monopolised the collection with gold discs and silver metal embellishments punctuating the garments dramatically.

There was a hint of ’60s style in some of the shorter sleeveless dresses, which were playful but still highly structured, embodying natural movement and refined style all at once. Jewel encrusted bodices, and gowns sprinkled with Swarovski crystals leant an overwhelming sense of decadence that has long been associated with the Versace label. Donatella’s strapless gowns for next spring/summer are incredibly feminine, enhancing womanly curves and accentuating the hour-glass figure seamlessly. Tailored jackets presented the perfect composite to the elegant gowns.

Cropped jackets were incredibly structured with strong shoulders and linear design in extravagant fabrics. A strapless playsuit in vibrant lemon embodied carefree summer style while also being incredibly fashion-forward. The series of citrus shades splashed throughout the collection come as a refreshing change from the dark, more sombre autumn/winter 2012 lines, signalling sunshine and clear skies ahead.

Lime green and bold tangerine pieces are contrasted against muted-chrome and gold in a perfect compliment to the overall look, embodying the wide spectrum of Grecian style. Lace, laser-cut silk, applique fabrics, Swarovski crystals and lots of sequins were used liberally to create drama and elegance in the way only Donatella can.

Donatella’s pearls of wisdom

The often outspoken designer Donatella Versace has created her fair share of controversy over the years. Here Neos Kosmos highlights some of the designer’s best insights.

On fashion: Fashion is all about happiness. It’s fun. It’s important. But it’s not medicine.
On philosophy: I don’t like balance. Balance is not a word you can use in Versace fashion.
On the label: You can’t pretend that everybody likes Versace. It would be boring. It’s better to create a reaction than to create no reaction. That’s dangerous.
On beauty: I’d need an incredibly talented make up artist to make me look natural.
On style: I go from working a full day to making sure I am home for dinner with my kids. I couldn’t do that in a 10cm mini-skirt, but I am not going to resort to sweatpants and an old t-shirt.
On addiction: I can give up anything except high-heels.