Donatella Versace Facts
By: Liz Flynn
Donatella Versace is a well-known Italian designer that has achieved international success and fame. She is currently the vice president and chief designer of the Versace Group, of which she owns 20% of the shares.
Early Life and Education
Donatella Francesca Versace was born on the 2nd May 1955 in Reggio Calabria, Italy. She is the youngest of four children. Two brothers, Santo and Gianni, and a sister, Tina, who died from a tetanus infection at the age of twelve. Her father worked for Italian aristocracy as a personal financier. Donatella Versace attended the University of Florence.
Debut in the Fashion World
Following in the footsteps of her older brother Gianni, Versace planned a career in knitwear design in Florence in the mid-70s. Although she had a desire to work in public relations, her brother wanted her as a critic and a muse. In the 1980s, Gianni dedicated a perfume to her and gave her ‘Versus’, her own label which remains successful to this day.
Career in Fashion
It wasn’t until after Gianni’s death in 1997 that Donatella launched her first couture show. This was held at the Hotel Ritz Paris and she emanated her brother’s style by having a glass runway over the hotel’s swimming pool. This led to her leading the production of over a dozen collections annually.
Although she works as a designer for the company, Donatella Versace achieved her dream of working in public relations as this is an aspect of the company she is responsible for and it is her skills in this area that have contributed to the long-term success of the Versace Group. She uses her celebrity connections as a marketing strategy, getting A-list celebrities to wear Versace clothes. The success of this marketing strategy has led to many other fashion houses copying this technique.
The dress that is credited with increasing Donatella’s popularity and success was one worn by Jennifer Lopez. The star wore the famous green dress, also known as the ‘Jungle Dress’, to the Grammy’s.
Donatella Versace has two children with her former husband, Paul Beck. They married in 1983 and divorced in 2000. Donatella’s daughter Allegra Versace Beck was born in 1986, followed by Daniel Paul Beck in 1990. At different stages of her life, Donatella had bouts of heavy smoking and drug use. In 1997, her brother Gianni Versace was murdered by Andrew Cunanan, who later commit suicide. His death led to Allegra inheriting 50% of the family business’ stock. Donatella’s other brother, Santo, currently holds 30% of the Versace Group stock. It is estimated that Donatella Versace has a net worth of $2.3 billion.
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