Donatella Versace

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Donatella Versace
Donatella Versace Time Shankbone 2010.jpg
Versace in 2010
Donatella Francesca Versace

(1955-05-02) 2 May 1955 (age 66)
  • Fashion designer
  • businesswoman
Board member ofVersace
Palazzo Versace Dubai
Elton John AIDS Foundation
Paul Beck
(m. 1983; div. 2000)

Manuel Dallori
(m. 2004; div. 2005)
ChildrenAllegra Versace
Daniel Versace
RelativesSanto Versace (brother)
Gianni Versace (brother)
Vice president of Versace
In office
PresidentSanto Versace
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byJorge Saud
Chief executive officer of Versace
In office
Serving with Santo Versace and Jorge Saud
PresidentSanto Versace
Preceded byGianni Versace
Succeeded byAllegra Versace
Creative director of Versace
Assumed office
PresidentSanto Versace
Preceded byGianni Versace

Donatella Francesca Versace (Italian: [donaˈtɛlla franˈtʃeska verˈsaːtʃe];[a] born 2 May 1955) is an Italian fashion designer, businesswoman and model. She is the sister of Gianni Versace, founder of the luxury fashion company Versace which she inherited a portion of upon her brother's death in 1997. She sold the company to Capri Holdings (Michael Kors) in 2018, but remained its chief creative officer.[3]

Life and career[edit]

Donatella Versace was born in Reggio di Calabria, Southern Italy, the youngest of four children. Her father, Antonio, was a salesman and her mother, Francesca, was a dressmaker.[4] Her older sister, Tina, died at the age of 12 from an improperly treated tetanus infection.[5] Donatella was persuaded to dye her hair blonde at just 11 years old by Gianni, because he was a big fan of Italian singer Patty Pravo.[6][7]

In the mid-1970s, Donatella studied literature and languages in Florence, Italy but would commute to Milan every weekend to spend time with her brother Gianni Versace.[8][9] She had planned to work for her brother in the public relations department, but, according to her, was more valuable to him as a "muse and critic".[10] Through her closeness to her brother's enterprises, she entered the fashion world. In 1989, Gianni launched a perfume dedicated to her, Blonde, and gave her her own label, Versus, which Gianni formerly ran for her until his death.[11] In the media, she was widely known as her brother's muse.[8] During the 1990s when the luxury war was between Versace and Armani, she brought the louche glamour that characterized the brand's appeal.[9]

Her brother Gianni Versace was murdered on 15 July 1997, outside the re-constructed Casa Casuarina, also known as Versace Mansion, in Miami, Florida.[12] In the aftermath of the highly publicized crime and manhunt, most of the Versace family, including Donatella, moved temporarily to a secluded private resort in the Caribbean. Her brother, Santo Versace, inherited 30% of Versace upon Gianni's death and her daughter, Allegra Versace, inherited 50%.[13][14]

On 18 July 1998, one year and three days after Gianni's death, Donatella Versace mounted her first Haute couture show for the Versace Atelier at the Hôtel Ritz Paris. She built her runway over the hotel's swimming pool, as her brother had done every season, though this time using sheer glass. From October 2002 to January 2003, Gianni and Donatella's best known Versace clothing was displayed in a special exhibit of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.[15] Her first years as head of the company were unstable, until she defined a new feminist proposition for the brand in 2005.[11]

Donatella has designed advertising campaigns for Versace that included Jennifer Lopez, Madonna,[16] Courtney Love, Christina Aguilera, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Demi Moore, Nicki Minaj, and Lady Gaga and made Beyoncé and January Jones. She designed the Green Versace dress of Jennifer Lopez, also known as the "Jungle-Dress", which was worn by Jennifer Lopez at the 42nd Grammy Awards in 2000.[17][18] In 2015, she appeared in the AW15 ad campaign of its direct competitor Givenchy.[19][11]

Donatella designed the Palazzo Versace Australia resort on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, which opened in September 2000, and played a major role in the design of the Palazzo Versace Dubai, the second Palazzo Versace hotel, which opened in November 2016.[20][21] She also designed a Mini Cooper for the Life Ball.[22] In September 2017, Donatella Versace set up a tribute show dedicated to her brother.[23]

Versace and her former husband, American model Paul Beck have two children: daughter Allegra Versace Beck (born 30 June 1986), and son Daniel Versace Beck (born 1989). Her marriage with Paul Beck ended in 2000.[11]

She fought a cocaine addiction for 18 years,[24] until 2005.[11] A heavy smoker, she quit in 2014.[7] She supposedly abused tanning sessions to the point of being affected by premature skin aging.[25]

She is a patron of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.[26]


  • 2008: FGI Superstar Award.[2]
  • 2010: Woman of the Year by Glamour
  • 2012[3], 2016: Fashion Designer of the Year by Glamour
  • 2017: Fashion Icon of the Year award by the British Fashion Council[27]
  • 2018: First woman to be named as the Designer of the Year at the GQ Men of the Year Awards in the UK and in China.[28][29]
  • 2018: International CFDA Award[30][31]
  • 2018: Fashion Icon award at GQ Awards Berlin.[32]

In popular culture[edit]

Versace has made a cameo appearance in Zoolander. In The Devil Wears Prada, her name was mentioned sporadically.[33]

At the 42nd Grammy Awards (2000), Jennifer Lopez wore the Green Jungle Dress which became an international point of attention, being highly publicised in the media. It was designed by Donatella herself and Lopez has the original dress currently with her at her estate. The dress worn by Lopez remains the reason for the creation of Google Images, and is known to have been downloaded over 600,000 times within 24 hours of the Grammy's night.[34][35] In 2019, Lopez wore the dress for the first time since 2001 for the Versace Milan Fashion Show.[36]

Versace was parodied several times by Maya Rudolph on Saturday Night Live.[37]

In the ABC series Ugly Betty, a fictional character called "Fabia", played by actress Gina Gershon, is a parody of Donatella.[38] Gershon also played Versace as the lead role in the Lifetime television movie House of Versace, released in 2013.

In 1999, director William Friedkin considered Angelina Jolie to portray Donatella, in a small role, in a film which never materialized entitled The Man Who Killed Versace written by Frederic Raphael.[citation needed]

Lady Gaga wrote the song "Donatella" from her 2013 album Artpop for her.[39] The plot of season 2 of the television series American Crime Story recounts the murder of Donatella's brother, Gianni Versace.[40] She is portrayed by Penélope Cruz.[41] She criticized the authenticity of the TV series, stating that she was with Madonna when the murder occurred, a moment that is not in the pictures.[42]


  1. ^ According to a January 2018 Vogue interview with Versace, her name is correctly pronounced /vərˈsɑː/ vər-SAH-chay in English as opposed to the popular pronunciation of /vərˈsɑːi/ vər-SAH-chee.[1][2]


  1. ^ 73 Questions With Donatella Versace. Vogue. 31 January 2018.
  2. ^ "You've probably been pronouncing 'Versace' wrong, according to Donatella". Harper's Bazaar. 2 February 2018.
  3. ^ "Capri Holdings Limited Completes Acquisition of Versace" (Press release). Business Wire. 31 December 2018.
  4. ^ King, Carol (15 April 2013). "Italian Families: Versace". Italy Magazine.
  5. ^ Collins, Lauren (24 September 2007). "Mondo Donatella". The New Yorker. p. 158.
  6. ^ "Donatella Versace pressured to dye hair blond at age 11 by brother Gianni". Toronto Sun. 2 November 2016.
  7. ^ a b Jacob Bernstein, Donatella Versace Has Long Been a Gay Icon. Now It’s Official.,, 29 June 2019
  8. ^ a b Cathy Horyn, La Bella Donatella,, 1 June 1997
  9. ^ a b Ariel Levy, Summer for the Sun Queen,, 17 August 2006
  10. ^ MILLER, JULIE (25 January 2018). "Inside Gianni Versace's Final Fashion Show". Vanity Fair.
  11. ^ a b c d e Jess Cartner-Morley, Donatella Versace: "My brother was the king, and my whole world had crashed around me”,, 14 September 2017
  12. ^ PEARSON, MURIEL; DUBREUIL, JIM; VALIENTE, ALEXA (7 July 2017). "Inside the mind of the serial killer who murdered Gianni Versace". ABC News.
  13. ^ Askinasi, Rachel (23 April 2019). "Inside the iconic Versace family's journey through fame, tragedy, and resilience". Business Insider.
  14. ^ Horyn, Cathy (15 June 2004). "A New Half-Owner for Versace, and She's Almost 18". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  15. ^ "Gianni Versace". Victoria and Albert Museum.
  16. ^ Today in Madonna History: April 7, 2005,, 7 April 2005
  17. ^ Fernandez, Celia (20 June 2019). "Jennifer Lopez Reveals Why She Almost Didn't Wear That Infamous Versace Dress to the 2000 Grammys". O, The Oprah Magazine.
  18. ^ Newcomb, Alyssa (22 April 2019). "Jennifer Lopez shares the story of that iconic green Versace dress". Today.
  19. ^ Morwenna Ferrier, Donatella Versace – the new face of Givenchy?,, 29 April 2015
  20. ^ "Go Big or Go Home! Palazzo Versace's Grand Opening in Dubai". Vogue. 16 November 2016.
  21. ^ Brunt, Lara (28 November 2016). "Donatella Versace's Dubai dream – inside the emirate's most glamorous hotel". The Daily Telegraph.
  22. ^ Un Mini Cooper más aventurero,, 2 June 2011
  23. ^ Lake Como, Versace,, 22 September 2017
  24. ^ Silvia Castillo, Polémica por la supuesta adicción a las drogas de Donatella Versace,, 29 July 2004
  25. ^ (in Spanish) La diseñadora Donatella Versace ha abusado del bronceado y presenta un envejecimiento de piel prematuro,, 2 August 2011
  26. ^ "Our Patrons". Elton John AIDS Foundation.
  27. ^ Eytan, Declan (30 November 2017). "Donatella Versace to Receive 'Fashion Icon of The Year' Award". Forbes.
  28. ^ "All the winners from the GQ Men of the Year Awards 2018". GQ.
  29. ^ "Donatella Versace: "I'll do anything in my power so that Versace remains in history"". MFFashion. 25 September 2018. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  30. ^ "Every Winner From the 2018 CFDA Awards". Vogue. 5 June 2018. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  31. ^ "The Green Carpet Fashion Award Winners 2018". Eco-Age. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  32. ^ Cordes, Niklas; Schönstädt, Annika (8 November 2018). ""GQ"-Awards: Hollywood in Berlin". Berliner Morgenpost.
  33. ^ BUNDEL, ANI (17 January 2018). "Donatella Versace's Net Worth Is Even Higher Than You Think It Is & That's A Lot". Elite Daily.
  34. ^ Lee, Michelle (2003). Fashion victim : our love-hate relationship with dressing, shopping, and the cost of style. Internet Archive. New York : Broadway Books.
  35. ^ Tashjian, Rachel. "How Jennifer Lopez's Versace Dress Created Google Images". GQ. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  36. ^ Jones, Jo; Conlon, Scarlett (23 September 2019). "Milan fashion week spring/summer 2020: 14 key shows – in pictures". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  38. ^ Cooper, Gael Fashingbauer (5 September 2013). "Double-take! Gina Gershon becomes an uncanny twin of Donatella Versace". Today.
  39. ^ "Donatella Versace Approves of the Love Song Lady Gaga Wrote for Her". Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  40. ^ Wagmeister, Elizabeth (12 January 2017). "Lady Gaga Will Not Play Donatella Versace in FX's 'American Crime Story'". Variety.
  41. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (20 March 2017). "Penelope Cruz to Star in 'Versace: American Crime Story'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  42. ^ Kyle Munzenrieder, Donatella Versace Reveals a Stunning Detail About Madonna and the Aftermath of Her Brother’s Death,, 10 April 2018

External links[edit]