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Versace SS18@donatella_versace

How to live your best life, according to Donatella Versace

On the designer’s 63rd birthday, we remember some of her best words on fashion, glamour, and 90s supermodels

Today marks the birthday of one of the fiercest, most glamorous fashion designers to ever send a collection down a Milanese runway. No prizes for guessing who: Donatella Versace, we’re looking at you. To celebrate, we take a look back at some of her best quotes. After all – who better to round up her life than the blonde bombshell herself. Happy Birthday, Donatella!

“What is comfortable fashion? To be comfortable, that can’t be in the vocabulary of fashion. If you want to be comfortable, stay home in your pajamas.” – Interview, 2011

Okay, so Donatella’s not exactly one for beating around the bush when it comes to sweatpants and flat shoes (stay tuned for more on them) – but that makes sense when you see her designs. ‘Comfies’ aren’t a concept she’s familiar with: instead, the Italian designer continued brother Gianni’s legacy – following his untimely death – of high glamour via strong silhouettes, and bold detailing all celebrating unbridled femininity. Think tight! Think short! Think loud! 

“Why shouldn’t a woman be glamorous? I don’t see why wearing flat shoes, no make-up and unkempt hair makes you more intelligent.” – Numéro, 2017

It’s a fact, you’ll never see the designer wearing flats. Her personal style – as well as that of her women – is amped-up glamour and it’s no different if she’s on the red carpet, or lounging around in the Versace manor. Never one to shy away from tight-fitting garms, embellished with all the glitz she can find, it’s no surprise Donatella’s designs are favoured by the likes of Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Cardi B, and Nicki Minaj. That’s without even mentioning one of Donatella’s most reconisable designs – the palm-print sheer dress worn by J Lo at the 2000 Grammy Awards. It’s literally the reason Google Images exists. 

“My muse changes all the time because I think every designer is a bit of a muse for themselves in a way – they just don’t want to say it.” – Interview, 2011

When it comes to muses, Donatella knows better than anyone. From the beginning of Versace, she was more than an inspiration to her brother Gianni, she was also his best friend, counsellor, and right-hand woman. Since then the house has seen muses like Madonna in the 90s, who embodies the strong, ambitious, and talented women the designer is drawn to. More recently, she has found a muse in Lady Gaga, who starred in the brand’s SS14 campaign and was set to play Donatella herself in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. She was later beaten out by Penélope Cruz, but it likely won’t be the last you’ll see of Versace-clad Gaga. 

“To be blonde means to be caressed by the sun, and to be your own sun: strong, full of energy, bright, warming.” SSENSE, 2018

When Donatella was only eleven, Gianni dyed her hair the now-recognisable blonde, making it her signature. And what better way to accessorise than with Versace’s sexed-up fashions? Since then little has changed, with Donatella now preferring a platinum blonde, and never leaving the house without wearing giant sunglasses. Don’t be fooled though, she isn’t “cold and distant”, and would describe herself as “warm and loyal”.

“The early 90s were an especially marvellous period for fashion because it was the peak of glamour and there were no limits as to what you could do.” – Interview, 2011

For SS18, the Versace matriarch paid tribute to Gianni for the 20th anniversary of his death. The collection was filled with patterns from the archives and reinterpretation of old looks as to attest of the brand’s legacy. “The reason I did it is that I feel like so many young people today don’t know Versace’s past and what it stands for, so I wanted to make an homage to that history in the collection,” Donatella told Interview. The pièce de résistance though, was the reunion of 90s supermodels so famed they only need one name: Cindy, Naomi, Claudia, Carla, and Helena. After a curtain revealed them wearing shimmering gold dresses, they all walked arm-in-arm with Donatella to George Michael’s “Freedom ‘90” – iconic! 

“Fashion needs fresh blood, and London is the most creative place for that.” 

Always fascinated with younger generations – check her AW15 collection featuring hashtag and emoji-embellished dresses – Donatella revived the Versus line in 2009. Since, she has enlisted the likes of upcoming designers of the time Christopher Kane and JW Anderson. Last year, the designer took over Central Saint Martins for Versus’s SS18 show, and at the same time, announced the Gianni Versace Scholarship for CSM – again as a tribute to her brother – to financially support fashion students.

“There’s time to slow down, after you’re dead.”

Overseeing four men’s and women’s brands – Versace, Atelier, Collection, and Jeans Couture – Donatella is probably one of the busiest women in fashion. In addition to the 12 collections a year she creates, she also handles the group’s perfumes and accessories too. “If I wasn’t running Versace, I would have a nervous breakdown,” the designer recently told Vogue. We feel the same, Donatella.