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Closing Vogue Festival this year was a talk with Donatella Versace, easily one of the most respected, interesting yet relatively secretive women in the fashion industry. Thrust into the limelight when her brother was tragically murdered, Donatella is truly a woman of our time. I was kindly invited by Voucher Codes - thanks Fleur! - to attend the talk and write up a few of my thoughts - here goes...

daisybutter - UK Style and Fashion Blog: vogue festival 2013, donatella versace
An afternoon with Donatella Versace, a woman of our time.

Donatella and her brother, Gianni Versace, were born and raised in South Italy to strict parents. Her signature dramatic and flamboyant style originated as a result of her parents' strict ways: Donatella even recounted when Gianni dressed her in a yellow leatherette mini skirt at the age of fifteen! It quickly became clear that the sibling duo were inseparable - the best of friends. The two carved a creative path for their career, with Donatella noting that their Italian childhood was 'never enough, [we] always wanted more' and that the pair were full of curiosity. 'Gianni always told me to be fearless, provocative and daring.'

Following the death of Gianni, Donatella took up the role of head of design. She went from being a sister, confidante and muse, to being forced to mourn in public, become a fully fledged businesswoman and embodiment of the Versace brand. Throughout the talk, Donatella maintained a quirky cool demeanour, her conversation with Lisa Armstrong peppered with funny quips and oddball personality traits. 'I am still a very shy person, a fearful person… there's a huge pressure on me to be the brand.'

Despite the hardships that Donatella faced, it's obvious and endearing to see the shift in personality. An acceptance of her new role and fame, paired with a silent knowledge of the ways in which she is perceived by the fashion industry. Whilst she doesn't have a clue about the creation of garments, she is well versed on the Versace woman - 'Versace is all about the proportions, tightness and realising that bodies are different. The brand is fearless today, it isn't too provocative'.

Having worked with Christopher Kane and Jonathan Anderson (J.W. Anderson, to you and I) to name but a few, Donatella also harbours close relationships with her fellow designers. She recounts the partnership with Kane as 'very different' to that with her brother Gianni, 'Can I just say something?' she quips. 'Christopher made me do flats. That's all.' To which the room, of course, erupted in half polite and mostly genuine laughter. Seeing Donatella relaxed, for the most part, and responding to some pretty hefty questioning was inspiring to say the least. Donatella had to mourn in public to keep the business afloat, the industry simply doesn't stop. 'You have to fight for your passion: you won't always understand exactly what you want.'

To round off the closing hour of Vogue Festival, it was incredibly rare and endearing to hear Donatella name her proudest moment. 'Right now, having you kids in front of me asking these questions, this is my proudest moment.' What a woman.


  1. Vogue Festival sounded amazing, wish I could have gone!

    Maria xxx

    1. It was really insightful! Not 100% sure if I'd go again, it'd depend on the talks, felt quite student orientated! x


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