Donatella Versace is an Italian fashion designer and current vice president of the Versace Group, as well as its chief designer.
Mrs. Versace was born in the Italian city of Reggio Di Calabria, Calabria, Italy, on May 2, 1955. She is the youngest of four children in her family. Her father was a personal financier to the Italian aristocracy. An older sister, Tina, died at the age of twelve from an improperly treated tetanus infection.
Donatella Versace began studying foreign languages in Florence. Though she was studying to become a teacher, she made frequent visits to Milan to assist her brother, who valued her insights and critiques as he made his start in the fashion industry.
Mrs. Versace went to work for her brother, Gianni Versace, in the late 1970s, serving as his muse and adviser to the company Gianni Versace S.p.A. In 1978 Donatella Versace assumed the role of vice president. Mrs. Versace became the designer for the company's Versus line in the 1980s.
After her brother was murdered in 1997, she became artistic director of the Versace Group. She also obtained a 20 percent stake in the company, while Allegra Versace Beck - her daughter with Paul Beck - received 50 percent. Mrs. Donatella’s brother, Santo, received the remaining 30 percent, and her son, Daniel Paul Beck, was willed no portion of the company upon Gianni Versace's death.
As artistic director and vice president, Donatella Versace advanced the company’s image through her public relations skills and confident design direction. After her brother’s death, she significantly increased the company’s exposure in markets across the globe and enhanced its reputation. Advertising efforts grew in Europe and the U.S. as Versace attached the faces of Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, and other stars to the Versace line. Mrs. Versace also collaborated with celebrities to produce designs. Such connections put her in high social esteem, with people such as Sir Elton John, Kate Moss, and Prince Charles attending her parties.
Branching into other fields, the company has created the grand, luxurious Palazzo Versace resort on the Gold Coast of Australia. Another growing symbol of the Versace style, the Burj al-Arab, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), boasts a broad collection of Versace furniture and beddings in its expensive and lavish rooms.
Donatella Versace also led the company through a design reinvention after her brother’s death in 1997. This task required her to remove herself from Gianni Versace’s inspirations and stylings - one of her biggest challenges as artistic director, by her own account. She sought to make the Versace look her own and, in doing so, gained the fashion house critical acclaim and a reputation for sophistication, especially in women’s fashion. Her direction turned out such creations as a green dress worn by Lopez at the Grammy Awards ceremony in 2000. The piece was deemed an instant classic in fashion history.
Mrs. Versace also participated in several of the company’s high-profile business collaborations and partnerships that were intended to pursue new markets and consumers, including one with the automaker Lamborghini beginning in 2006 and another with the retail clothing chain H&M in 2011. She was at the helm when the Versace company entered real estate in 2000, opening the luxury hotel Palazzo Versace in Australia. She also made final design decisions in the construction of her second hotel, in Dubai, completed in 2015.
Donatella Versace has given cameo performances in many films relating to fashion and its industry, such as Zoolander. In other films, including the 2006 hit The Devil Wears Prada, her name is mentioned sporadically. Lady Gaga wrote the song "Donatella" from her 2013 album Artpop for her. The plot of season 2 of the television series American Crime Story recounts the murder of her brother, Gianni Versace. She is portrayed by Penélope Cruz.
Mrs. Versace and her former husband, American model Paul Beck have two children: daughter Allegra Versace Beck (born on 30 June 1986), and son Daniel Versace (born in 1989). The couple divorced in 2000. In 2004 she got married to Manuel Dallori, but in a year the also divorced.