Donatella Versace, who became chief designer after the murder of her brother Gianni, talks to Vanessa Friedman (New York Times) about how her Milan office reflects her deep loss and pain and at the same time inspires her to not only keep Versace alive, but to bring Versace into modernity and the new 20s. After his death, she took the brand forward. Today Versace owns more than 1500 boutiques worldwide. In 2018, Michael Kors joined the company and purchased $2.12 billion worth of shares, leaving Donatella in charge of creative direction.
Interview: Donatella Versace
Versace is one of the most famous fashion brands in the world. Behind the brand is Donatella Versace. We sat down with her and she talks about her life and the company.
73 questions to Donatella
Versace history & Gianni Versace
Growing up in Reggio Calabria, Gianni Versace spent his early years as a child working for his mother. His mother was the proud owner of a local sewing shop. So little Gianni grew up early, close to fashion.
Here in the Reggio Calabria Versace fell in love with fashion. At the age of 9, Gianni already created his first dress. At that time a blue one-shoulder evening dress. Hard to believe but true, Princess Diana wore a version of this creation about 40 years later.
When he was 26 years old, he moved to Milan to work in fashion design and in 1973 he became the leading creative head (fashion designer) of “Byblos”, a youthful line for Genny. It wasn’t until 1978 that he opened his own fashion boutique on Via della Spiga, right in the middle of Milan’s main shopping street.
Over the next decade, Versace exploded on the scene. When it came to marketing his product, he was a genius. He was the first designer to take his shows on the catwalk to other major markets such as Paris and New York.
Versace also recognized the brand influence he would gain if celebrities were outfitted by him. He designed clothes for Elton John, Princess Diana, Michael Jackson and countless other celebrities. Recently, Jennifer Lopez wore a replica of the famous green dress she wore in 2000 in this year’s show at New York Fashion Week, 19 years later.
After his tragic death, his sister Donatella took over the creative direction and continued to drive the company forward.
Fashion show: Versace stands for gold and elegance
Gianni was an extraordinary person because he celebrated every day as if it was the last one he had! It is precisely because he always approached life with a smile on his lips that he had such a good life. Every year that Gianni lived, he lived to the fullest: Throughout his career he created collections that are still considered a cultural reference and inspiration for many people today.
It would be impossible to commemorate Gianni’s entire world in a single collection, so I have decided to honour his legacy with his beloved prints and shimmering metal mesh.
The fashion show: