Explore about Donatella Versace 1997 incident and how she made her way to the top of fashion industry

There are many known figures in the fashion industry who have rocked the name fashion. When we say fashion luxury items without even thinking we picture Gucci, Channel, Versace, etc in our minds. It means these brands are popular at its peak. Versace is one of such brands that people buy without even thinking. The name is and originality is enough. This was all possible because of the owners Gianni Versace and Donatella Versace. 

Who is Donatella Versace?

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Donatella Versace is the artistic director at the Versace company since 1997. Donatella is responsible for the growth of the Versace company. She expanded her Versace products to accessories, luxury clothing, home furnishing, and hotels which lead Versace to be a luxury lifestyle brand. She became the artistic director after the death of her brother aka the owner of Versace Gianni Versace in 1997. 

When Donatella Versace was young

Donatella was born on May 2, 1955, in Reggio Calabria, Italy. She was the youngest among her other 3 siblings of two boys and a girl. Her eldest sister Tina Versace died due to Tetanus at the age of 12. She grew up alongside two fashion influencers throughout her life, her mother a dressmaker, and Gianni, a bidding designer. Their mother had a dressmaking business. Donatella Versace and Gianni practiced designing from their mother from an early age. 

During her teenage years, she started developing her own image. She dyed her hair blonde and started using dark eyeliner. Donatella Versace and Gianni were very close since childhood. They would often go out and design dresses together. 

Gianni moved to Milan in 1972 to start his fashion industry whereas Donatella moved to Florence to study language as her subject. Donatella was studying to become a teacher but she often visited Milan to assist her brother Gianni in his business. This was the starting of her role in the fashion industry. 

Donatella Versace in Gianni’s Fashion Industry

Gianni started ‘Gianni Versace Spa’ in 1978 and made Donatella the vice president as she was always by his side. Her other brother Santo Versace was also working together with them. Donatella gave advises in Gianni’s designs and took the responsibility for advertising campaigns. She also played an important role in managing and organizing Versace fashion shows.

Donatella was the spark of business. She was friends with top stars Madonna and Elizabeth Hurley and often featured them in her fashion and commercial shows. Her shows were more of a hit every time. As love from brother for her hard work, Gianni released a perfume ‘Blonde’ for the honor of Donatella. 

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Slowly taking over the versus and Versace industry

Donatella was also working as a chief designer for Versace company’s Versus line.  As she worked more her knowledge of business grew every day. In the mid-1990’s she was already learning how businesses work. At the same time, her brother Gianni suffered from cancer and had to take rest for a long time. 

In the absence of her brother, Donatella handled the Versace company for about a year and a half. She was very creative and properly managed her own lines like Versus and young Versace.  The two siblings, Donatella and Santo Versace were working on the company’s succession plan. After Gianni took proper treatment and rest, he beat cancer and was back to business. 

Donatella Versace 1997 incident

There was a big change in the company in 1997. Gianni Versace was shot outside his own home in Miami Beach, Florida in 1997. Donatella Versace was deeply affected by her beloved brother’s death. Later it was found out that Gianni was killed by an American murderer, Andrew Cunanan. The killer was on a killing spree, he killed several people and then committed suicide.

This was a very depressing time for Both Donatella and Versace company. It was hard for her to bear the loss of her brother so to overcome the sadness. She had to depend on drugs to divert her mind. Her drug addiction grew as time went by. ‘Gianni Versace SpA’ was on hold for some time after the murder of the owner. She even needed to seek help from rehabilitation centers to get rid of her drug addiction. 

After taking some leave, Donatella Versace arose in Versace company as chief designer and vice president of the board. The company’s stake was divided among her family members. Donatella received 20% of the company, her daughter Allegra Versace received 50% and her brother Santo received a total of the remaining 30%. The only person who didn’t get any share was Daniel Paul Beck Donatella’s son. 

Her responsibility and efforts for Versace

The responsibility of Versace was once again poured upon Donatella. She became the artistic director and worked in the advancement of the company. At this point, the Versace company was already popular. She made many connections and maintained good public relations. She worked on marketing tactics and focused on exposing their company worldwide. 

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Advertising efforts were significantly focused on Europe and the U.S. She made many artist friends and offered them to become the face of Versace. Some faces of Versace were Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and many more. Versace also collaborated with many popular known brands. This put her together with people in high standards such as Sir Elton John, Prince Charles, and Kate Moss. Soon she was together with them attending parties. 

After the 1997 incident, Donatella reinvented the designs of Versace company. This was one of her biggest challenges as she changed Gianni’s stylings and inspirations. She was bound to make Versace more of her own. In the process, she gained wide audience attention, especially in the women’s fashion industry. 

Donatella was able to make Versace a big fashion brand. One of her successful and notable dresses is a green dress worn by Jennifer Lopez in the 2000’s Grammy Awards Ceremony.

Versace partnered and collaborated with many high profile business brands to reach new markets and expand her market. They worked with Lamborghini in 2006 and retail clothing chain with H&M in 2011.  In 2000, Versace entered the real estate world after opening a Luxury hotel Palazzo Versace in Australia. In 2015, there was already another hotel in construction of which she took full responsibility. 

Over the years there were many changes in the ownership and management section of the company. But one thing was consistent, Donatella Versace always maintained her leadership roles. In 2014, Blackstone, a multinational company purchased 20% of the company. In 2016, Jonathan Skeroyd was appointed as the CEO of the company. Despite the changes in the company, Donatella Versace continued to lead the company herself. 

Donatella’s children and family

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Image Source: papermag.com

After marriage Donatella has a total of four members in her family. Donatella Versace married Paul Beck a former model in 1986. In the same year, the pair had their first daughter Allegra Versace and later a son Daniel in 1989. Eventually, the couple divorced several years later. The death of her brother Gianni was her life’s most tragic moment. She took drugs to hide her feelings and divert her mind. Soon she became a cocaine addict and struggled through it. She had to take treatment in 2004. 





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