Donatella Versace has been the artistic director of the Versace empire since 1997, overseeing the rise of the family’s premium apparel lines as well as the diversification into accessories, hotels, and home furnishings, establishing a luxurious lifestyle brand with sales expected to reach over $850 million in 2018. She is dedicated to house’s whole vision, from their runway collections and looks to their worldwide development and future in the digital realm, as both artistic director and vice president of the brand.
Being the youngest out of the Versace siblings, Donatella had a very close relationship with her brother Gianni, the legendary creator of the label, and was the obvious heir to him following his death in 1997. Donatella unveiled her first collection, the Atelier Spring/Summer in 1998, on a stunning catwalk held just above the swimming pool of the Ritz Hotel, garnering immediate praise from industry insiders.
The Atelier Versace and ready-to-wear brands are said to have maintained a desirable position thanks to the larger-than-life businesswoman. On the 20th anniversary of Gianni Versace’s death, she invited 90’s supermodels Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, and Naomi Campbell to walk to the runway in the label’s renowned lame gowns, earning a standing ovation at the end of the show.
Donatella was named honorary chair of the London Fashion Fringe initiative, which was created by noted journalist Colin McDowell, in 2008. Versace is also a current supporter and advocate of the Elton John AIDS Foundation and was acknowledged by VH1 in 2010 with the “Do Something” award for her efforts to humanitarian work.
The rebranding of the Versus line has been handled by the famous designer, who appointed Christopher Kane to relaunch the brand in 2009, followed by Jonathan Anderson in 2012, who created a capsule collection for the house. Donatella announced in 2013 that Anthony Vaccarello will be the brand’s most recent designer to create a capsule collection. Vaccarello was recruited as Versus Versace’s full-time creative director as a reward for his performance, and the line’s income more that doubled year after year in 2014. He then left in 2016.
Donatella Versace received the “Fashion Icon” award at the Fashion Awards in December 2017, and the “International” award at the CFDA in 2018. She was named “Designer of the Year” by both GQ China and British GQ around the same year, and she received the “Fashion Icon Award” at Berlin’s GQ Awards. She was also honored with the CNMI Award for Sustainability at the 2018 Green Carpet Fashion Awards.
Courtney Love, Christina Aguilera, Demi Moore, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Lopez, and Madonna have all appeared in a few of her Versace commercial campaigns.
Donatella Versace was the youngest of four siblings. Antonio, her father, was a salesperson, and Francesca, her mother, was a seamstress. In 1978, her elder brother Gianni founded the first Versace store in Milan’s Via della Spiga, which soon became a hit. Versace quickly became on the most popular fashion labels of the time, and Gianni appointed his sister as Vice President, who was then in charge of creative direction and active as a major counselor to Versace.
Her brother Gianni was shot and murdered on the steps of his mansion In Miami Beach on July 15, 1997, at the age of 50, as he was walking back from his morning paper run on Ocean Drive. Following the high-profile manhunt, the majority of the Versace family, including Donatella, relocated to a remote private Caribbean property. Donatella then held her first haute couture runway show at the Ritz Hotel three days following Gianni’s death.