At The Vogue Festival 2013 at Southbank leading designers, photographers, celebrities, models and fashion editors gave a unique insight into their lives and work. I went to listen to a talk by Donatella Versace. ‘A Woman of our Time’ was a talk about her life following the death of her brother Gianni in 1997, when she became chief designer and vice-president of the Versace Group, and is now one of the leading women in international fashion.
Donatella told the audience how she had been talking to her brother over the phone only a few minutes before he died. They had a very close bond, and still today she dreams about him and write him letters. At that time she confessed tobe a very shy person and with no experience running a company. The only thing that made her take the control over the company was her loyalty to Gianni, she could not dissapoint her brother.
“Clothes are a weapon. They give strength to a powerful woman.” Donatella told the audience how it was her brother’s idea to bleach her hair in order to stand out from the crowd. He also made her clothes e.g. a yellow leather mini dress, in a very conservative Southern Italy, where the family is from.
Typical for the fashion industry when asked which is her favourite collection Donatella answered: “the next one!” Time will tell whether she will able to move the brand into the future. It looks that Donatella has been successful to spot new talent to work for the brand e.g. Christian Kane. The new Versus collection by London-based designer J.W. Anderson will be out next.
When asked what has been her proudest moment, Donatella answered: “now, being front of the kids in front of me (referring to the young audience of aspiring fashion designers), who are interested about me and asking question.” Her advice for new talent was to be totally free, and not to compromise. It was clear message to the audience that that she wants to live in the future and not to rely on the past success.