Donatella Versace struggled with comparisons to her late brother Gianni Versace when she took over his fashion house.
The Italian designer was forced to succeed her sibling as chief creative director at the brand following Gianni’s tragic murder at the age of 50 in 1997.
Donatella staged her first haute couture show for Versace in Paris one year after Gianni’s death, and in a conversation with Anna Wintour as part of the 2019 Forces of Fashion conference, she recalled how difficult the time was for her.
“To be compared to Gianni was not only tough, it destroyed me,” she stated. “Because Gianni was the king, Gianni was Gianni. He’d create something incredible. If you go through his archive, you always learn. Everybody learns, not only me…. I thought I was going to fail. The whole world was (wondering), ‘Is she going to fail?’ But I don’t know how, this strength came to me… (I thought), ‘I need to keep going, even if I suffer.'”
Donatella has continued to oversee the company, and in September 2017, honoured her brother by having his favourite ’90s supermodels – Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Helena Christensen, Claudia Schiffer, and Carla Bruni – walk the runway.
As for the future of the brand, the fashion icon is hoping to continue mentoring rising talent and finding new ways to embrace sustainability.
“I mean I’ve embraced a lot of young designers, even for the Versus line, when we’re still doing Versus, but the world is now full of young talent,” the 64-year-old commented. “We are interested in sustainability, which is a big issue, and we all should look to make this world better and less dirty… We do little steps, little by little, but we’re going to get there.”
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