Donatella Versace, Chief Creative Officer of Versace discusses her vision for the House, the S/S 22 collection and the brand’s iconic red-carpet moments.
Despite the world facing a turbulent two years throughout the global pandemic, Versace is a brand that has gone from strength to strength. With Donatella Versace at the helm, it has continued to push forward, always staying relevant and continuing to honour its heritage in new, innovative ways.
A house that transcends generations, Versace appeals to a vast audience around the world thanks to Donatella’s unique approach to design. While innovation and talking to a young audience are key, the Chief Creative Officer never forgets her lifelong customers and always comes back to the iconic styles and motifs that have been part of the brand for over forty years.
This year, for her Spring/Summer 2022 collection, Donatella Versace revisited some iconic motifs including the Versace Medusa, the unforgettable safety pins and even the brand’s iconic chainmail. There were also new modern classics added into the mix, playing on historical styles but giving them a new twist for a new audience. Donatella enlisted members of her “Versace family” including Dua Lipa, Naomi Campbell, Emily Ratajkowski, and Lourdes Leon to showcase the collection in Milan. Here we find out more about the spring/summer 22 collection as well as her vision for the future of the house.
Tell us about the Spring/Summer 22 collection, the highlights and the men and women it represents?
The main inspiration for the Spring/Summer 2022 collection is the Versace iconic silk foulard; a fundamental component of Versace’s heritage and DNA. It has acted as a canvas for our iconic prints, and it can be worn in multiple ways, from knotted tops to headscarves to bags and accessories. It’s a way of adding attitude to every look. The foulard has been with us since the very beginning of the brand, but this season turns everything on its head: it is no longer fluid or dreamy, the scarf is provocative, sexy, and it is for both men and women.
The past two years have been unusual to say the least – what is something you have changed at Versace since the beginning of the pandemic?
So much has surfaced in the last couple of years and there has been a lot to reflect on. Many might re-consider the role of fashion in all this. I have certainly thought about it on several occasions. I believe we now have the chance to make a difference, to positively impact the lives of future generations. It is our responsibility to preserve the planet, promote human rights and create the basis for a better life. I am prepared to put myself out there, as I have always done. That’s what Versace stands for. To not be afraid to dare, to provoke, to indulge and to look on the bright side of things and make a difference. We are stronger than ever.
What is a lesson you feel you have learnt over the past two years?
I think above all, I have rediscovered the importance of solidarity, unity, and the power of actions.
The Fendace collection was an iconic moment – tell us about the project with Kim Jones, why you decided to create this collection, and can you share a little on the process behind your designs?
Kim Jones called me and said, “I would like to do something with you, but something that has never been done before.” There have been a lot of collaborations between brands but never a full swap of designers. So, I became the designer of Fendi and he became the designer of Versace. I interpreted Fendi in the way I see Fendi. We approached it like a game more than a real job and that allowed us to be free to express ourselves. I’d like to underline that a collaboration is one thing but swapping designers is something totally different. Kim trusts me enough to hand Fendi over to me and he allowed me to translate it into my vision. I trust him enough to give Versace to him and his vision.
We have seen in recent seasons a lot more collaborations, partnerships, and strategic brand takeovers – do you think this is something consumers what to see more of and is there room for more to come?
I have never stepped away from a creative collaboration when I felt it was the right thing to do, but I do not seek to collaborate just for publicity. It must be something creative, inspiring and that looks to the future, at innovation, at doing something that has never been done before. When two creative minds come together, they can do anything, and I find the process very impressive and stimulating in all its phases.
We’ve seen some great accessories in the last few seasons – La Medusa bag, the Greca Sneakers – to name a few – what do you think makes a modern icon when it comes to accessories in today’s market?
I think we all want to have something special in our closets, something that makes us feel happy. And this is what accessories are made for! That’s why in the SS22 collection I introduced the new Triplatform line; a selection of footwear favourites that innovate the idea of a platform shoe with a wavey block heel and fun-loving aesthetic. They’re so very Versace! Speaking of accessories, the new season also introduces a youthful La Medusa mini bag style, which provides multiple carry options, including a stiff-chain top handle and adjustable shoulder strap. Another perfect item to become a modern icon.
Going back to the SS22 show, we saw you reflect on the past years of the brand – what is an era or moment throughout Versace’s history that you still hold close to your heart today?
One of the most important to me is the Tribute Collection. It marked a turning moment for me personally and professionally. That was the first time I went back into the brand’s archive. It was a moment of transformation and catharsis, and it was the beginning of a new era for Versace.
We’ve seen some great new brand ambassadors joining the house in recent years, what do you look for when choosing someone to represent your brand and how do you connect them with the customer?
I always admire when someone has the courage to speak their mind, whether I agree with them or not. That is what I look for when I’m choosing someone to represent Versace. It is never just about placing a dress on someone or shooting a nice picture…it is about getting to know that person, about creating a long-lasting friendship, about being part of the Versace family!
What are your goals for Versace for 2022?
To stay relevant and creative. As a designer, I could not wish for anything more than that.
Looking at the longer term, if you had to sum up your current vision for the house what would you tell us?
To be true to its DNA but always evolving.
Looking forward to the upcoming fall/winter 2022 shows, is there anything you can share with us on what to expect?
I can only tell you to stay tuned!
In recent years your red-carpet gowns have truly been incredible – what are some moments that stand out to you from some of the celebrity red carpet moments Versace has had recently?
There are too many to count, even just considering 2021! Angelina Jolie at the premiere of “Eternals” in Rome, Maluma and Lil Nas X at the MET Gala, Zendaya at the Bet Awards, Dua Lipa at The Grammys…I am so lucky to work with incredible celebrities that can be called as such because of their personalities, their strength, endurance, and the positive impact they have.
We hope to see you in Dubai soon – what can you tell us about Versace in the Middle East?
The Middle East is a very important region for Versace and I personally love it. Ever since we launched in the region, I have realised that Versace is so loved and appreciated. It is fascinating to see your sense of style and your knowledge of luxury fashion.