© Versace Press Service
The house of Versace celebrates its 40th anniversary. Donatella Versace dedicated the jubilee spring-summer display of the brand to her legendary brother. We asked her what contribution Gianni had made to the fashion world and whether it was easy to collect all the supermodels of the 1990s on the same podium.
The Versace Spring-Summer 2018 show was perhaps the most discussed during the fashion week in Milan. The guests saw everything that the fashion house is known: leopard print and baroque curls, ultra-short dresses and boots on a stunning hairpin. However, a real surprise was waiting for everyone in the final, when Donatella came out with Naomi Campbell, Carla Bruni, Helena Christensen, Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer. In tight-fitting gold dresses and golden sandals, the supermodels seem to have come down from the famous picture: backstage show Gianni Versace, autumn-winter-1993/94. This collection Donatella not only dedicated to her beloved brother, but also proved that she deserved the trust and worthy of the name Versace.
– It’s hard to be Donatella Versace?
“I think it’s not harder than being someone else.” Despite what you see on my social networks, I have quite an ordinary life: I swear with my children, get irritated at work because of the burden of responsibility that lies on my shoulders, I have ups and downs, but this is life !! However, I realize that I am a privileged person: I have an amazing family and a favorite job that gives me the opportunity to travel around the world and get acquainted with interesting people. The role of the creative director of the brand attracts me a lot of attention, even when I do not want it, but I’m not complaining, because these are the rules of the game. But thanks to popularity, I have the opportunity to influence the opinions of others – I hope, in a positive way. For some it’s a burden, for me it’s a gift. I am a happy woman and I thank for it every day.
– How would you describe yourself?
“Curiosity is one of my main features.” I quickly get bored, so I’m constantly looking for something new. It is for this reason that I surround myself with young talented people from all over the world – from them I learn about new trends, artists, trends in music. And I’m very determined: if I want to achieve something, then no difficulties will stop me on the way to the goal.
– Can you call yourself a strong woman?
– Now yes, but before – definitely not. I have significantly changed over the past 20 years. Everything that happened to Gianni, what my family experienced with its loss, was very painful. I felt incredible pressure: I had to prove that I could be better than him, or at least the same, to be worthy of Versace. I wanted to escape, hide from everyone, but I had to keep my face – for the sake of the family and the company. Although I was unbearably ill. Until recently, I felt that the past was following me, but thanks to the jubilee collection the circle was closed: I accepted my past and realized that I deserved trust.
© Versace Press Service
– Looking back, at everything you did, at what point are you particularly proud of?
– I’m not one of those people who like to look back, remember old victories or defeats. Of course, I’m proud of everything that I managed to do for Versace, but all thoughts are directed to the future, and I want to be proud of the victories that await me ahead.
– How does your own style differ from Gianni’s style?
– It’s hard to say, because Gianni always influenced me: since childhood he loved dressing me, inventing images, I was his favorite doll. He always encouraged me and my bold antics, so it’s difficult to determine where the line between him and my style lies. By the way, it was he who persuaded me to become a platinum blonde – although at that time I was only 11 years old.
– How did Gianni Versace change the fashion world?
– His contribution is invaluable. He believed that fashion is not just clothes, it’s a way of expressing oneself. My brother was courageous, resolute, for which he was often criticized, but this is the reverse side of the genius: he was too ahead of his time. Religious symbols, leather things with laser perforations, draperies, surplus prints – think about it, all this Gianni did in the early 1990’s. He created a world in which rule number one is the absence of any rules.
– What has changed in the fashion house of Versace, when the Gianni era has ended?
– There have been many changes, and all of them are related to the fact that we needed to remain relevant and meet the demands of customers. The most important drivers are now the Internet and social networks. Not only for us, for the whole industry. Everything became superfast. But despite this, some things are unchanged: first of all, that we position Versace as a family fashion house, this is our DNA.
– Tell us about the display of the jubilee collection of spring-summer – 2018, which you dedicated to your brother.
– I had long cherished this idea, but until last year I was not ready – I just felt that I could not touch the archives. It seemed to me that if I used them, they would immediately say to me: “Look, she is copying her brilliant brother!” But she stopped doubting even after the young top models started asking where they could find Jeanne jeans with a print or a shirt. Then I saw the delight of my team when I started working on the collection. It really was the right time. Of course, I can not access the archives every season, but I want to give the young generation an opportunity to learn what Gianni did and how he was.
– It was your idea – to invite to participate in the display of the legendary models?
– Yes, it was my idea. When you think about Gianni, you immediately remember the phenomenon of supermodels: he was the first one made from celebrity models. I remember when I worked on the collection, I sent every SMS with a proposal to participate in the show and immediately received a positive response. It was very exciting. With each of them I am friendly, they are part of our family, it would be wrong to not call them. As a result, at the show we again plunged into the powerful energy of the 90s.
– And what do you remember about the models that changed the world?
“I remember how everyone froze when they just showed up. They were personalities – that’s why Naomi, Christie, Cindy, Linda (Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista – RBC Style) remained cult. After them, no one had such a stunning success. Today, thanks to social networks, I see evidence that success can be repeated. Gigi, Bella, Kendall (Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner – “RBC Style”) – these are the heroines of modern times, allowing through social networks to look into their world. This is what always mattered. The world of models is not only about beauty, it’s about life in general, about who you are.
– In your opinion, what do young people want from Versace today?
– Courage, sexuality, glamor. House Versace has always been a synonym for fearlessness and broke stereotypes – and I’m so proud of it. But I would also like to note that modern young people want absolutely everything – they are not ready to stop choosing one brand or style. Just look how they dress up the millenials: today they want gothic, tomorrow romance, and the day after tomorrow of sexuality. You are on the wrong track if you think you know what they want: they like to dress and change every day. Of course, this circumstance, on the one hand, complicates our work, and on the other – makes it exciting and makes us constantly move forward.
– What is the starting point for your collections? Where do you get inspiration from?
– There is not one thing. My main source of inspiration is life itself. Everything that happens to me: the emotions that I receive during travel, the messages that people write to Instagram, or the photos they post, music, communication with my team. And, as I said before, I like being in the company of young people – it helps to be in the topic and learn new things.
– The whole world is watching you intently, while you yourself are reluctant to advertise your personal life. For you, privacy has always been more important than popularity?
– I would have formulated it differently: for me it has always been vital to remain sane and stand firm on the ground, and not to hang in the clouds. And it’s not as difficult as it might seem. And as for the popularity … Every morning I start with yoga, and then spend the whole day in the office, where I’m just the boss, and not Donatella Versace from the secular chronicle. My house and office are the safest places where I can be myself and say all kinds of nonsense, without fear that someone will judge me.
– At the same time you have a very popular account in Instagram, in which more than two and a half million subscribers.
– Instagram is a powerful tool, but I decide what to show off and what not. This is the secret of the balance between private life and public life. Instagram helps show another me – more fun and open. After all, usually everyone thinks that I’m cold and unapproachable, all because of the image that I myself once created. I like Instagram for his spontaneity, the ability to tell stories, but, believe me, I do not sit all day, checking the likes and loading posts, it’s just a game – no more.