The Best of Donatella Versace

Donatella Versace is celebrating her 63rd birthday today, and what more appropriate time to cast our eyes back at some of her classic collections from her time at the helm of Versace.

SS97 RTW Ladieswear - Her First Collection
In early October of 1997, not even three months after the death of her brother, Gianni, Donatella Versace prepared for her first show at the helm of the brand. Backstage before the show she said, “Gianni is irreplaceable. I would like to be judged for what I am doing, not compared to him. If you compare me to him, I can only fall short.” The audience included the likes of Giorgio Armani, Miuccia Prada and Karl Lagerfeld and music came in the form of then-new song ‘Candy Perfume Girl’ by Madonna. The collection was a complete tribute to Gianni, and featured many of his signatures; the ‘barely there dresses’ in a variety of outlandish prints, Prince of Wales weaves and of course, expert tailoring. The show received a standing ovation and respectful reviews in the media. Though her debut collection will always be fraught with the loss of her brother, it told the world that Versace, under Donatella’s direction, was not going anywhere.


SS08 Haute Couture – The Rise of Donatella
In the back room of Versace’s Paris boutique, on an appointments only schedule, Donatella presented her latest work for Atelier Versace. Confidence ran throughout the collection of 15 gowns and it truly showed how far the Italian designer had come since the death of her brother. Simplicity and Versace is almost like an oxymoron when used in the same sentence, however the collection had a striking level of sophistication and assurance epitomised by the solid colour pallet used amongst the dresses; pale copper, geranium red, vivid turquoise, deep berry-brown. Of course, there was still bling, as what would Versace be without a little glamour here and there, but the emphasis was on tailoring and volume. A stand out piece was a bias-cut goddess dress with a puffy caped sleeve swooping around to frame a deep-scooped back.

SS16 RTW Menswear – The Return of the Kings
On a sultry Saturday night in Milan, Donatella decided it was time to rock the industry. She crafted a billowing tent out of oversized Versace scarves stitched together for some chic sartorial shelter; then she coated the catwalk in a fine layer of golden sand before finally letting her latest menswear collection loose on the world. Always giving it’s menswear collections the same extravaganza as it’s women’s shows, Donatella brought back two of her all-time favourite models - Scott Barnhill and Ivan de Pineda, who have history with Versace that goes back to the days of Gianni. The elegance both models projected in their perfectly tailored suits left the audience in awe. The collection was a breathe of fresh air; think elongated silhouettes, silky figure hanging silks hung on strong shoulders, and power fittings – a collection that carried its own from start to finish.


SS18 RTW Ladieswear – Supermodels Assemble
Marking the 20th anniversary of Gianni’s brutal murder, Donatella brought back his greatest legacy; the Supermodel. As a power move at fashion week, she presented a blockbuster tribute that saw the return of five of the original supermodels – Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Helena Christensen and the former French first lady Carla Bruni. She used prints from her brother’s collections combined with modernised silhouettes and vintage Versace leggings. The finale was designed to re-enact one of Gianni Versace’s most iconic moments from 1991; when four supermodels walked arm in arm on the runway. By putting five women in the spotlight on a night dedicated to her brother, Donatella Versace also ensured that the optics emphasised her brother’s “allegiance to women”.