I love Donatella Versace
I have a soft spot in my heart for Donatella Versace. When I was young, my first designer obsession was Gianni Versace; I was obsessed with his dresses, his use of color and the strange, powerful women that inhabited his advertising campaigns. The day he died, I was watching VH1 when they announced the horrible news through a scroll at the bottom of the page, I immediately called my mom at work with the news and we both sat there for a second a little stunned. I was heartbroken. Since then, I rooted on Donatella to be awesome and keep the house afloat. And even when the collections weren't entirely to my liking, I still stuck by her*. Plus let's face it, she is just an awesome woman, how on earth can anyone not like her is beyond me.You can imagine then, how quickly I purchased my ticket when I got an e-mail from The New York Times telling me she was going to be the next fashion designer to make a cameo at their new Times Center in Midtown (you may remember they also hosted Alber Elbaz there late last year).
At about 6:05pm, the lights dimmed and I started giggling like a little girl. Donatella came out in a fabulous skintight black dress with an asymmetrical strap going across her chest, diamonds all over the place and the highest black patent leather heels I have ever seen in real life. She is of course tiny, and not as orange as she looks in pictures (no one ever believes me when I say this for some reason). The event was moderated by Stefano Tonchi, editor of T, The New York Times Style Magazine, who is also Italian and was a little concerned about two Italians (with corresponding accents) entertaining us for the entire time. Clearly, there wasn't a problem.
Donatella is really funny and seemed very relaxed, she talked a lot about her relationship with Gianni and how when she was 11, he would dress her up in "mini skirts and yellow patent leather boots" and take her out on the town. He treated her like an adult since she was little, and he's also the one that turned her blonde. She said he suggested highlights when she was 11 and a half, and by the time she was 16 she was platinum blonde (her mother was not psyched about it, obviously). Gianni was her best friend and you could hear all the admiration and love she felt for him when she talked about him, she said that he loved women and he wanted to "give color, give happiness and give life to people", which is something she has tried to follow in her subsequent collections. When Stefano asked her whether clothes made the woman, or the woman made the clothes, her answer wasn't what I was expecting, she said that clothes are tools for women to achieve any goals they might be after. I liked that answer, to me it was a perfect balance between both answers, and clearly a reflection of her own relationship to clothes. Stefano commented on the clothes she used to wear back in the day and how they scared him a little, she responded that since she was very shy, the clothes served as a barrier from other people. She was very honest in all her answers, even when talking about her stint in rehab.
She spoke at length about her business and her process. She said that she doesn't look to the past when she designs because it was so good and so rich that if she were to repeat it, people would grill her for it (although it's ok if other designers look to Versace's history for inspiration). Donatella is a modernist (when asked how she sees herself in 10 years she said, jokingly, "in flat shoes and short black hair", but then added "I don't know, you can ask me what I'm going to do in 10 minutes, not 10 years") and is obsessed with technology and the new. She believes its important to look to what the new, young designers are doing (because complacency in yourself makes you useless), and help them get a leg-up in the business, which is why she's involved with London's Fashion Fringe. Christopher Kane seems to be her new favorite designer, but she also expressed admiration for Marios Schwab and Giles. She is not afraid of retirement because "if you have nothing else to say, you should go do something else".
The atmosphere the entire time was relaxed and we laughed plenty of times. She recently attended the White House Correspondents dinner and when Stefano asked her what she thought of the President she started laughing. Then we all laughed of course, and to make everything better she said "I think Mr. Bush is a very simple man" (which was met with thunderous applause from the public). She also really wants to meet Obama and was very disappointed that he wasn't there. Stefano asked her what she thought of Hillary and she said that she knows her very well (she visited the White House during the Clinton administration), and that she wishes Hillary was more feminine. She said "we know that she is strong and that she is trying to show that she can run a country, but she doesn't need to wear trousers to show that". She showed her great sense of humor when asked who she would like to trade lives, and her answer was Maya Rudolph**, who did the awesomest impression of the designer when she was still a cast member on Saturday Night Live. My favorite part of the night, though, was when Stefano asked her if she had any pearls of wisdom along the lines of Coco Chanel's "always take something off before you leave the house" her response? "Don't let the rapper have more bling than you do".
Were you expecting anything else?
*Please don't mock my absurd loyalty to people who I don't actually know.
** Let's talk about this Maya Rudolph business for a second, shall we? Can anyone tell me why on Earth NBC has NO clips featuring Maya Rudolph on their website? How dare they talk about her wildly successful Versace impression and then not have at least one of the skits in stock? It's downright embarrassing is what it is, so they better get on that ASAP.