Donatella Versace: Heiress to the Throne

From bold colors to innovative patterns, the Versace brand is known for its functionality, while still giving off an edgy look.  What started off as a line for men’s clothing has transitioned into so much more. Over the years Versace has delved into making shoes, fragrances, handbags, belts, watches, eye wear and jewelry.

Versace is a very prominent well-known name in the world of fashion.  This Italian based clothing label was founded in 1978 by Gianni Versace. The Versace look is all about the body, from plunging necklines, slits in tops, to short skirts. They want you to feel comfortable showing off your assets according to Gianni Versace’s sister Donatella Versace.  A brother and sister built the successful fashion empire,  and the brand’s net worth is valued at over 270 million.

don3The Versace brand is a luxury style of clothing.  There are several lines that make up  Versace including Versace Couture, Versace Jeans Couture, Versace Home Collection, Versus and Versace Collection.

The Versace sibings: Santo, Gianni and Donatella grew up learning the basics of fashion. Their mother Francesca Versace owned a small tailoring shop in Italy. Donatella Versace, a former model is the youngest sister to Gianni. She was born in 1955 in Italy. Growing up she would always tail behind her brother trying to learn everything that he knew in regards to fashion. He eventually moved to Florence, Italy to study fashion and Donatella followed him. She attended Florence University studying Italian literature.

After she graduated from college she relocated to Milan to live with her brother. Donatella joined her brother’s company and began to handle public relations for Versace. Donatella has always been an inspiration for Versace designs. “If my sister wants to do something, okay. If she doesn’t like a sketch, I will cancel it,” he told Vanity Fair magazine.

In the early 80’s he created and dedicated a perfume to her called Blonde.  He also gave her the head position of operation and management of the Versace line Versus.


Throughout the years, Donatella used her PR skills to her advantage. She was one of the first people to use celebrities and other well known models to boost the sales and media exposure for the Versace brand. A creative thought that still works today has made Versace one of the most popular fashion labels for celebrities. Donatella Versace is now the reigning head of the Versace Brand. This position was designated to her after the death of her brother Gianni.

Gianni  was brutally murdered in 1997, while in the driveway of his Miami Beach home after returning there after a morning walk from a coffee shop, by serial killer Andrew Cunanan. Gianni always told Donatella that if anything were to happen to him,  he wanted her to take the responsibility of operating the company. Granting her brother’s wish she turned Versace into a worldwide company. In an interview with TIME magazine, Donatella  discussed how she keeps Gianni’s spirit alive through Versace. “When Gianni started, fashion was about being safe, being sophisticated. The word glamour didn’t exist. Gianni invented glamour. It meant women not being afraid to embrace femininity and sensuality. I make sure glamour stays,” she said.

Gianni was always known for the fond love that he had for his nieces and nephews:  Francesca, Antonio , Allegra and Daniel Versace. Before Gianni was killed he wrote in his will that 50 percent of the Versace empire will go to his niece Allegra. He wanted 20 percent to go to his sister Donatella, and 35 percent to his brother Santo.

Now that the Versace brand is labeled a full blown lifestyle brand, Donatella wants to move into dabbing her hands in designing luxury cars. “I already designed a Lamborghini—It’s a Murcielago Lamborghini. We designed a limited edition, which I love. I love cars. I wouldn’t drive a Lamborghini, though, because I think I would be too dangerous as a driver,” she told TIME.

Throughout the years she has always made sure the Versace brand has a fresh and young look to it, making sure that it will have the approval of her brother Gianni.

“I always, always think of Gianni—if Gianni would approve of what I’m doing. Every fashion show, before the girls or the boys go on the runway, I close my eyes and think of him. Will Gianni approve of this? I tell myself, Yes, he will. He taught me everything I know. Even if my fashion changes, evolves with the millennium, the DNA is the same.”


Donatella Versace spoke of the brand to Reuters saying “ My inspiration is still rock and roll, but now it’s lady rock and roll. The look is more refined and more glamorous.”

-Markysha Cannon