Donatella Versace

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Donatella Versace
Versace in 2010
Donatella Francesca Versace

(1955-05-02) 2 May 1955 (age 69)
  • Creative director
  • Fashion designer
  • Luxury businesswoman
Board member ofVersace
Palazzo Versace Dubai
Elton John AIDS Foundation
Paul Beck
(m. 1983; div. 2000)
Manuel Dallori
(m. 2004; div. 2005)
ChildrenDaniel and Allegra
RelativesSanto Versace (brother)
Gianni Versace (brother)
Vice president of Versace
In office
PresidentSanto Versace
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byJorge Saud
Chief executive officer of Versace
In office
Serving with Santo Versace and Jorge Saud
PresidentSanto Versace
Preceded byGianni Versace
Succeeded byAllegra Versace
Creative director of Versace
Assumed office
PresidentSanto Versace
Preceded byGianni Versace

Donatella Francesca Versace (Italian: [donaˈtɛlla franˈtʃeska verˈsaːtʃe];[a] born 2 May 1955), sometimes simply referred to mononymously as Donatella, is an Italian fashion designer, businesswoman, socialite, and model. She is the sister of Gianni Versace, founder of the luxury fashion company Versace, with whom she worked closely on the development of the brand and in particular its combining of Italian luxury with pop culture and celebrity.[3]

Upon Gianni's death in 1997, she inherited a portion of the Versace brand and became its creative director. She is currently the brand's chief creative officer.[4] Along with her brother Gianni, she is widely credited for the supermodel phenomenon of the 1990s by casting editorial models on the runway.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Donatella Versace was born in Reggio di Calabria, Italy, the youngest of four children; Santo, Gianni, and Tina. Her father, Antonio Versace, helped run the family coal mining business, and her mother, Francesca Versace (née Olandese), was a seamstress for a fashion company before setting up her own fashion boutique.[6] Her older sister, Tina, died at the age of 12 from an improperly treated tetanus infection.[7] Always close to her brother Gianni, Donatella was persuaded by him to dye her hair blonde at 11 years old in honor of the Italian singer Patty Pravo, of whom he was a big fan.[8]

In the mid-1970s, Donatella studied literature and languages in Florence. On the weekends, she would commute to Milan to work with Gianni, who was working at the Callaghan fashion label.[9] Donatella's mother did not approve, wanting her to focus instead on her studies, and would check up on Donatella with surprise visits to Florence.[10]


Donatella was only ever interested in a career in the fashion and model industry, stating; "I knew I was going to work in fashion; I really didn't think of nothing else."[10] In 1976, Donatella and Santo joined their brother Gianni in Milan.[11] The three travelled to the United States in 1977 on a three-week tour in search of press and overseas buyers in anticipation of starting the Versace brand.[12]

The Versace brand was established in 1978, with Donatella employed as vice president,[13] although she collaborated with Gianni across all projects,[14] especially in styling, creating the brand image,[15] and designing the brand's accessories, shoes, and handbags.[9] In 1982, Gianni sent Donatella to an auction where she placed the winning bid on the palazzo at Via Gesù 12 in Milan which would become the Versace headquarters and showroom.

Donatella is widely considered to have been both a creative partner and muse to Gianni.[9] In 1989, Gianni dedicated the new Blonde perfume to Donatella, and entrusted the Versus diffusion line to her – gifting her a yellow diamond ring to mark the occasion.[16] During 1996 and early 1997, with Gianni Versace recovering from a cancer of the left ear, Donatella took over much of the decision-making for the Versace brand.[9]

Versace has described her approach to design as being rooted in images, saying "I don't look at the clothes with my eyes, I look through images – a picture, or a video."[17] She is often cited with developing the Versace look.[18] Donatella worked with fashion photographer Richard Avedon on the Spring-Summer 1980 campaign shoot,[18] his first for the brand, and would art direct Avedon on the Spring-Summer 1993 campaign.

Gianni was murdered on 15 July 1997, outside the re-constructed Casa Casuarina, also known as Versace Mansion, in Miami, Florida.[19] In the aftermath of the highly publicized crime and manhunt, most of the Versace family, including Donatella, moved temporarily to a secluded private resort in the Caribbean. Her brother, Santo Versace, inherited 30% of Versace upon Gianni's death and her daughter, Allegra Versace, inherited 50%.[20][21] Gianni Versace's book The Art of Being You, published posthumously in 1997, includes a dedication to Gianni from Donatella and Santo which reads "This book is a tribute to a great artist himself, to someone who lived with an incredible love for art, to a very special person who was always fascinated by art and artists and always supported them, our brother Gianni".[22]

On 18 July 1998, one year and three days after Gianni's death, Donatella Versace mounted her first haute couture show for the Versace Atelier at the Hôtel Ritz Paris. She built her runway over the hotel's swimming pool, as her brother had done every season, though this time using sheer glass. From October 2002 to January 2003, Gianni and Donatella's best known Versace clothing was displayed in a special exhibit of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.[23]

Donatella has designed advertising campaigns for Versace that included Madonna,[24] Courtney Love, Christina Aguilera, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Demi Moore, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and January Jones. She designed the Green Versace dress of Jennifer Lopez, also known as the "Jungle-Dress", which was worn by Lopez at the 42nd Grammy Awards in 2000.[25][26] In 2015, she appeared in the AW15 ad campaign of its direct competitor Givenchy.[27][28]

Donatella designed the Palazzo Versace Australia resort on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, which opened in September 2000, and played a major role in the design of the Palazzo Versace Dubai, the second Palazzo Versace hotel, which opened in November 2016.[29][30] She also designed a Mini Cooper for the Life Ball.[31] In September 2017, Donatella Versace set up a tribute show dedicated to her brother.[32]

Versace and her former husband, American model Paul Beck have two children: daughter Allegra Versace Beck (born 30 June 1986), and son Daniel Versace Beck (born 1989). Her marriage with Paul Beck ended in 2000.[28]

She fought a cocaine addiction for 18 years[33] until 2005.[28] A heavy smoker, she quit in 2014.[34]


  • 1996: De Beers Diamonds International Award[35] for her design of a gold and diamond tiara, produced by Gianni Versace.
  • 2004: Bambi Award for Fashion[36]
  • 2005: World Fashion Award as Designer of the Year, at the Women's World Awards[37]
  • 2007: Honored along with Gianni Versace by The City of Beverly Hills and the Rodeo Drive Committee for their contributions to the fashion world with a Rodeo Drive Walk of Style Award.[38]
  • 2008: FGI Superstar Award.[2]
  • 2008: Honorary chairman of Fashion Fringe[39]
  • 2009: Honorary chairman of Fashion Fringe for the second year running[40]
  • 2010: Woman of the Year by Glamour[41]
  • 2012: Speaker at the Oxford Union.[42]
  • 2012,[3] 2016: Fashion Designer of the Year by Glamour
  • 2017: Fashion Icon of the Year award by the British Fashion Council[43][44]
  • 2018: First woman to be named as the Designer of the Year at the GQ Men of the Year Awards in the UK and in China.[45][46]
  • 2018: International CFDA Award[47][48]
  • 2018: Fashion Icon award at GQ Awards Berlin.[49]
  • 2023: Humanitarian Award for Equity and Inclusivity at the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italia Sustainable Fashion Awards.[50][51]
  • 2024: Game Changer Honor at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards (GCFA).[52]


Versace has been involved in several charitable causes. In 1993, Donatella and Gianni Versace published the book South Beach Stories and donated all proceeds to ANLAIDS.[53] She continues to be a patron of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Alongside supermodel Naomi Campbell, in 1998 Versace organized a benefit fashion show in support of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, raising thousands of dollars for the charity.[54] In the same year, Versace staged a charity fashion show during the Fire & Ice Ball in California to raise funds for the Revlon/UCLA Women's Cancer Research Program. The ball raised $1.8million for the charity.[55]

In 2008, Versace staged its first fashion show in China as part of a charity fund-raiser auction and dinner as part of a yearlong partnership in benefit of the Jet Li One Foundation to open children's centers for post-trauma and psychological relief in China's Sichuan province, following an earthquake in the region. As part of the collaboration, Donatella designed a Versace/One Foundation logo and limited-edition merchandise.[56]

In 2010, Versace contributed £20,000 to the 20:20 Fashion Fund of the London fashion college, Central Saint Martins, with funds going towards new equipment for the college.[57]

In 2021, £200,000 were donated by Donatella and her daughter to help during the pandemic of COVID-19.[58] The donation went to the San Raffaele Hospital's intensive care in Milan, Italy.[58]

In popular culture[edit]

Versace made a cameo appearance in Zoolander. In The Devil Wears Prada, her name was mentioned sporadically.[59]

At the 42nd Grammy Awards (2000), Jennifer Lopez wore the Green Jungle Dress, which became an international point of attention, being highly publicised in the media. It was designed by Versace herself and Lopez has the original dress currently with her at her estate. The dress worn by Lopez remains the reason for the creation of Google Images, and is known to have been downloaded over 600,000 times within 24 hours of the Grammy's night.[60][61] In 2019, Lopez wore the dress for the first time since 2001 for the Versace Milan Fashion Show.[62]

Versace was parodied several times by Maya Rudolph on Saturday Night Live.[63]

In the ABC series Ugly Betty, a fictional character called Fabia, played by actress Gina Gershon, is a parody of Versace.[64] Gershon also played Versace as the lead role in the Lifetime television film House of Versace, released in 2013.

Lady Gaga wrote the song "Donatella" from her album Artpop (2013) for her.[65]

The plot of season 2 of the television series American Crime Story recounts the murder of Donatella's brother Gianni.[66] She is portrayed by Penélope Cruz.[67] She criticized the authenticity of the TV series, stating that she was with Madonna when the murder occurred, a moment that is not in the pictures.[68]

In 2022, Versace took part in an onstage skit alongside musicians Dua Lipa and Megan Thee Stallion at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards. Dua and Megan came to the stage in matching black floor-length gowns before Versace joined them on the stage and unclipped a part of each dress to reveal different looks.[69] The moment was a tribute to a skit between Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston at the 1998 VMAs.[70] Also in 2022, Donatella's team assisted with making Cardi B's shiny gold chain outfit for the Met Gala. This dress took around 20 people to make, with each chain being hand embroidered.

In 2023, Versace designed a strapless safety pin dress with white tweed, pearl accents and camellia flower details which was worn by Anne Hathaway at the Met Gala.[71]

The character Donatello Versus in Stone Ocean, Part 6 of the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure manga, is named after her.


  1. ^ According to a January 2018 Vogue interview with Versace, her name is correctly pronounced /vərˈsɑː/ vər-SAH-chay in English as opposed to the popular pronunciation of /vərˈsɑːi/ vər-SAH-chee.[1][2]


  1. ^ 73 Questions With Donatella Versace. Vogue. 31 January 2018.
  2. ^ "You've probably been pronouncing 'Versace' wrong, according to Donatella". Harper's Bazaar. 2 February 2018.
  3. ^ Versace, Donatella; Frisa, Maria Luisa; Tonchi, Stefano (2016). Versace. Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. p. 125.
  4. ^ Askinasi, Rachel. "Inside the iconic Versace family's journey through fame, tragedy, and resilience". Business Insider.
  5. ^ Versace, Donatella; Frisa, Maria Luisa; Tonchi, Stefano (2016). Versace. Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. p. 64.
  6. ^ Versace, Donatella; Frisa, Maria Luisa; Tonchi, Stefano (2016). Versace. Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. p. 21.
  7. ^ Collins, Lauren (24 September 2007). "Mondo Donatella". The New Yorker. p. 158.
  8. ^ Versace, Donatella; Frisa, Maria Luisa; Tonchi, Stefano (2016). Versace. Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. p. 17.
  9. ^ a b c d Cathy Horyn, La Bella Donatella,, 1 June 1997
  10. ^ a b Ariel Levy, Summer for the Sun Queen,, 17 August 2006
  12. ^ Bocca, Nicoletta; Buss, Chiara (21 May 1989). Gianni Versace. L'abito per pensare. Mondadori, Milano. p. 344.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  13. ^ Kautz, Justin. "Donatella Versace". Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  14. ^ Versace, Donatella; Frisa, Maria Luisa; Tonchi, Stefano (2016). Versace. Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. p. 234.
  15. ^ Versace, Donatella; Frisa, Maria Luisa; Tonchi, Stefano (2016). Versace. Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. p. 44.
  16. ^ Versace, Donatella; Frisa, Maria Luisa; Tonchi, Stefano (2016). Versace. Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. p. 261.
  17. ^ Versace, Donatella; Frisa, Maria Luisa; Tonchi, Stefano (2016). Versace. Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. p. 188.
  18. ^ a b Versace, Donatella; Frisa, Maria Luisa; Tonchi, Stefano (2016). Versace. Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. p. 36.
  19. ^ PEARSON, MURIEL; DUBREUIL, JIM; VALIENTE, ALEXA (7 July 2017). "Inside the mind of the serial killer who murdered Gianni Versace". ABC News.
  20. ^ Askinasi, Rachel (23 April 2019). "Inside the iconic Versace family's journey through fame, tragedy, and resilience". Business Insider.
  21. ^ Horyn, Cathy (15 June 2004). "A New Half-Owner for Versace, and She's Almost 18". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  22. ^ Versace, Gianni. The Art of Being You (1997 Leonardo Arte stl ed.). Milan Elemond Editori Associat. p. 5.
  23. ^ "Gianni Versace". Victoria and Albert Museum. 27 September 2012.
  24. ^ Today in Madonna History: April 7, 2005,, 7 April 2005
  25. ^ Fernandez, Celia (20 June 2019). "Jennifer Lopez Reveals Why She Almost Didn't Wear That Infamous Versace Dress to the 2000 Grammys". O, The Oprah Magazine.
  26. ^ Newcomb, Alyssa (22 April 2019). "Jennifer Lopez shares the story of that iconic green Versace dress". Today.
  27. ^ Morwenna Ferrier, Donatella Versace – the new face of Givenchy?,, 29 April 2015
  28. ^ a b c Jess Cartner-Morley, Donatella Versace: "My brother was the king, and my whole world had crashed around me",, 14 September 2017
  29. ^ "Go Big or Go Home! Palazzo Versace's Grand Opening in Dubai". Vogue. 16 November 2016.
  30. ^ Brunt, Lara (28 November 2016). "Donatella Versace's Dubai dream – inside the emirate's most glamorous hotel". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022.
  31. ^ Un Mini Cooper más aventurero,, 2 June 2011
  32. ^ Lake Como, Versace,, 22 September 2017
  33. ^ Silvia Castillo, Polémica por la supuesta adicción a las drogas de Donatella Versace,, 29 July 2004
  34. ^ Jacob Bernstein, Donatella Versace Has Long Been a Gay Icon. Now It's Official.,, 29 June 2019
  35. ^ Menkes, Suzy (11 May 1999). "Vegetable and Mineral:Dior's Garden of Gems". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  36. ^ Barnett, Leisa (19 November 2008). "Today In History - November 19". Vogue.
  37. ^ "Donatella Versace: domani a Lipsia il World Fashion Award come designer dell'anno". Fashion Magazine. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  38. ^ "Rodeo Drive Walk of Style". Love Beverly Hills. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  39. ^ "Fashion Fringe 2008". Vogue. 25 April 2008.
  40. ^ Mower, Sarah (18 September 2008). "Fashion Fringe". Vogue.
  41. ^ "Glamour's 2010 Women Of The Year: Your First Look At The Best Dressed On The Red Carpet". Glamour. Retrieved 16 June 2023.
  42. ^ Milligan, Lauren (30 May 2012). "Donatella's Oxford Turn". Vogue.
  43. ^ Eytan, Declan (30 November 2017). "Donatella Versace to Receive 'Fashion Icon of The Year' Award". Forbes.
  44. ^ "Fashion Awards 2017 : Donatella Versace nommée « Fashion Icon »". Fashion Network. Retrieved 26 March 2024.
  45. ^ "All the winners from the GQ Men of the Year Awards 2018". GQ. 6 September 2018.
  46. ^ "Donatella Versace: "I'll do anything in my power so that Versace remains in history"". MFFashion. 25 September 2018. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  47. ^ "Every Winner From the 2018 CFDA Awards". Vogue. 5 June 2018. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  48. ^ "The Green Carpet Fashion Award Winners 2018". Eco-Age. Archived from the original on 14 October 2018. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  49. ^ Cordes, Niklas; Schönstädt, Annika (8 November 2018). ""GQ"-Awards: Hollywood in Berlin". Berliner Morgenpost.
  50. ^ "Milan's Sustainable Fashion Awards Take Centre Stage At La Scala". British Vogue. Retrieved 5 March 2024.
  51. ^ "Donatella Versace Receives Humanitarian Award". WWD. Retrieved 5 March 2024.
  52. ^ "Donatella Versace Honored with Game Changer Award at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards". Design Scene. Retrieved 26 March 2024.
  53. ^ Versace, Gianni; Versace, Donatella. South Side Beach Stories. Leonardo Arte.
  54. ^ "Mandela shirt and Versace fashion show raise thousands for charity". BBC News.
  55. ^ Higgins, Bill (11 December 1998). "Fire & Ice sizzles". Variety.
  56. ^ Zargani, Luisa (15 October 2008). "Versace China Show to Aid Charity". WWD.
  57. ^ Alexander, Ella (12 November 2010). "Donatella's Gift". Vogue.
  58. ^ a b "Donatella Versace's Fight to End COVID-19". BORGEN Magazine. 17 July 2021. Retrieved 26 January 2023.
  59. ^ BUNDEL, ANI (17 January 2018). "Donatella Versace's Net Worth Is Even Higher Than You Think It Is & That's A Lot". Elite Daily.
  60. ^ Lee, Michelle (2003). Fashion victim : our love-hate relationship with dressing, shopping, and the cost of style. Internet Archive. New York : Broadway Books. ISBN 9780767910484.
  61. ^ Tashjian, Rachel (20 September 2019). "How Jennifer Lopez's Versace Dress Created Google Images". GQ. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  62. ^ Jones, Jo; Conlon, Scarlett (23 September 2019). "Milan fashion week spring/summer 2020: 14 key shows – in pictures". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  64. ^ Cooper, Gael Fashingbauer (5 September 2013). "Double-take! Gina Gershon becomes an uncanny twin of Donatella Versace". Today.
  65. ^ "Donatella Versace Approves of the Love Song Lady Gaga Wrote for Her". Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  66. ^ Wagmeister, Elizabeth (12 January 2017). "Lady Gaga Will Not Play Donatella Versace in FX's 'American Crime Story'". Variety.
  67. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (20 March 2017). "Penelope Cruz to Star in 'Versace: American Crime Story'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  68. ^ Kyle Munzenrieder, Donatella Versace Reveals a Stunning Detail About Madonna and the Aftermath of Her Brother's Death,, 10 April 2018
  69. ^ Vanderhoof, Erin (4 April 2022). "Megan Thee Stallion and Dua Lipa Invite Donatella Versace on the Grammys 2022 Stage for a Throwback Moment". Vanity Fair.
  70. ^ Jackson, Clementina (4 April 2022). "Dua Lipa Wears Iconic Versace Dress And Re-Enacts Nineties VMAs Skit At The 2022 Grammys". ELLE.
  71. ^ "Anne Hathaway Wore a Versace Dress With an Epic Leg Slit to the 2023 Met Gala". ELLE. 2 May 2023. Retrieved 12 May 2023.

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