Donatella Versace

Born: Reggio Calabria, Italy, 1955

Designer Biography Donatella VersaceThe youngest of four children, Donatella started her interest in fashion from her mothers small tailor shop. Aged eleven, Donatella inherited a large fortune from her Uncle’s death.

With her older brother, Gianni pursuing a career in fashion, Donatella followed him and planned to work for him in public relations, however Gianni said she would be more useful as his ‘muse and critic’.

Plunged into the fashion world from her brother, by the eighties, Donatella had her own diffusion line ‘Versus’ and had a perfume ‘Blonde’ dedicated to her by her brother.

Already designing for her diffusion line, and accessories, Donatella created a children’s line ‘Young Versace’ in 1993.

In 1997, Donatella’s brother Gianni was shot dead. Taking over the company, Donatella was named as Creative Director of the Versace Group.

In 1998, Donatella co-chaired the ‘Fire and Ice’ annual fundraising event for the Woman’s Cancer research program. The following year, Donatella co-hosted ‘Diamonds are Forever’, the millennium celebration in the presence of The Prince of Wales. 1998 also saw Donatella showcase her first couture show, exactly a year and three days after Gianni’s death.

Keeping to her brother’s style, she built a runway over the Hotel Ritz Paris’s swimming pool, just as Gianni had done every season.

In 2000, Donatella designed costumes for Maurice Bejart’s ballet ‘L’Enfant Roi’. Four years later Versace was honoured with the ‘Bambi for Fashion Award’ in Hamburg. In 2005, Donatella modelled, becoming the face for the Breast Health Institute world wide advertising campaign.

Donatella and her late brother Gianni, were awarded by the City of Beverly Hills for their contribution to the worlds of fashion and entertainment in 2007. Two years later, Versace hosted the Whitney Museum’s benefit and Donatella co-hosted the event. Also in 2009, Donatella asked Christopher Kane to revive her much loved ‘Versus’ line.

Overseeing the production of Versace collections every year, Donatella has managed to expand the company with great success. With a portfolio now containing Fashion, accessories, home furnishings and hotels, Versace has now turned into a lifestyle brand.

Managing to keep Versace as a major player in the fashion world, Donatella and her designs are loved by celebrities worldwide, including Madonna, Elton John, Kate Moss, Demi Moore and many more.

Donatella Versace, the esteemed designer, has created advertising campaigns for Versace featuring notable personalities such as Madonna, Courtney Love, Christina Aguilera, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Demi Moore, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, and January Jones. One of her famous designs is the Green Versace dress, also known as the “Jungle Dress,” which Jennifer Lopez wore at the 42nd Grammy Awards in 2000. Donatella Versace even made an appearance in the AW15 ad campaign for Givenchy, a direct competitor of Versace.

Donatella played a significant role in the design of the Palazzo Versace Australia resort, located in Queensland, Australia, which opened its doors in September 2000. She also contributed to the design of the Palazzo Versace Dubai, the second Palazzo Versace hotel, which opened in November 2016. Additionally, Donatella designed a Mini Cooper for the Life Ball event. In September 2017, she organized a tribute show dedicated to her late brother, Gianni Versace.

Donatella Versace and her former husband, American model Paul Beck, have two children together. Their daughter, Allegra Versace Beck, was born on June 30, 1986, and their son, Daniel Versace Beck, was born in 1989. Donatella’s marriage to Paul Beck ended in 2000.

Donatella battled a cocaine addiction for 18 years until 2005.

Throughout her career, Donatella Versace has received numerous awards and recognition for her contributions to the fashion industry. Some of her notable accolades include the De Beers Diamonds International Award in 1996 for her design of a gold and diamond tiara, the Bambi Award for Fashion in 2004, and the Fashion Icon of the Year award by the British Fashion Council in 2017. She was also honored as the Designer of the Year at the GQ Men of the Year Awards in the UK and China in 2018, among others.

Donatella Versace has been actively involved in philanthropy, supporting causes such as the Elton John AIDS Foundation and organizing benefit fashion shows to raise funds for charities like the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and the Revlon/UCLA Women’s Cancer Research Program. She has made generous donations to institutions such as Central Saint Martins and the San Raffaele Hospital’s intensive care unit in Milan.

Donatella Versace has made appearances in popular culture, including a cameo in the movie Zoolander and mentions of her name in The Devil Wears Prada. She was parodied on Saturday Night Live by Maya Rudolph, and Gina Gershon portrayed a fictional character inspired by her in the series Ugly Betty. Lady Gaga dedicated a song titled “Donatella” to her, and she was portrayed by Penélope Cruz in the TV series American Crime Story, which focused on the murder of her brother Gianni Versace.

In recent years, Donatella has continued to make an impact, participating in memorable moments such as an onstage skit at the Grammy Awards and designing stunning outfits for events like the Met Gala. Her influence extends to various artistic mediums, including her namesake character in the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure manga.

Donatella Versace Biography

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Written by Saxony Dudbridge

Saxony Dudbridge was one of the first contributors to the Catwalk Yourself project, Saxony studies International Fashion Marketing and she is responsible for our great History and Designers Biographies sections.

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