Elle India
DonatellaVersace Fashion Designer Versace Gianni Versace Image Credit: Elle India
DonatellaVersace Fashion Designer Versace Gianni Versace Image Credit: Elle India

Donatella Versace Talks about Stepping Into a Very Bright Spotlight

He was the founder of one of the world’s most famous fashion brands. She had big boots to fill. Twenty years after her brother Gianni’s death, Mick Brown talks to Donatella Versace about stepping into a very bright spotlight

Mick Brown

When I meet Donatella Versace in a suite at The Dorchester hotel, she is wearing a minidress imprinted with vintage Vogue covers. The cut and fabric of the dress are contemporary, but the print, she explains, is “from the Gianni archive”—one garment from a new collection, celebrating the life and work of her brother. It is 20 years since Gianni Versace was shot dead at the gate of his mansion in Miami by a gay hustler, who had already murdered four people and was apparently driven to kill Gianni—whom he had never met—by a toxic resentment of his wealth and success.

For the 19 years that Gianni ran the company, Donatella was his most constant companion—helpmeet, muse, provocateur. But as she points out, she has now been creative director for longer than Gianni was. A milestone then, I say.

“Well, it was better for me before. He was in front, I was behind. Then I could say whatever I want; I can be pushing, I can scream; now I have to be careful, there’s only me.” She gives a husky laugh.

She is diminutive—just 5’6”, and a slave to high heels—and as wiry as a pipe cleaner, her toned arms and legs the fruits of her daily 45-minute workout in her gym, listening to punk rock. “I think it’s good for your mind.” Deep-black eyes—framed by layers of eyeliner—peer out from a curtain of peroxide-blonde hair. She speaks in strangul

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