Donatella Versace, who became head designer after her brother Gianni was murdered, talks to Vanessa Friedman (New York Times) about how her Milan office reflects her deep loss and pain while inspiring her to not only keep Versace alive, she’s bringing Versace into the modern age and the new 20s. After his death, she moved the brand forward. Today, Versace holds more than 1500 boutiques worldwide. In 2018, Michael Kors joined the company and bought $2.12 billion worth of stock, so Donatella continues to be the lead creative director.
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 for 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.
It was here in Reggio Calabria that Versace fell in love with fashion. At the age of 9 Gianni already creates his first dress. At the time, a blue one-shoulder evening dress. Hard to believe but true, Princess Diana wore a version of this creation some 40 years later.
Then, when he turned 26, 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 was not until 1978 that he opened his own fashion boutique in Via della Spiga, in the middle of Milan’s main shopping street.
Over the next decade, Versace exploded onto the scene. When it came to marketing his product, he was a genius. He was the first designer to take his runway shows to other major markets like Paris and New York.
Versace also recognized the influence the brand would receive when 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 at this year’s New York Fashion Week show, 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 like it was the last one he had! It was 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 point for many.
It would be impossible to commemorate Gianni’s entire world in a single collection, so I’ve decided to honor his legacy with his beloved prints and dazzling metallic fabric.
The fashion show: