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My take on Donatella Versace, fashion icon with a striking personality and unique style

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

Donatella Versace is a legendary figure in the fashion industry, recognized for her unparalleled creativity, elegance and boldness. As creative director and vice president of the renowned fashion house Versace, Donatella not only continued the legacy established by her brother, Gianni Versace but also left her own unique and unmistakable mark. This month, Donatella turned 69, so now we will explore the designer’s life, work, and impact on the fashion industry.


Donatella Francesca Versace was born on May 2, 1955, in the city of Reggio, Calabria region, in southern Italy. She is the youngest of four children, but her older sister, Tina, died at the age of 12 due to a tetanus infection. Her father worked as a private accountant for the Italian aristocracy, while her mother had a sewing atelier. Therefore, from an early age she and her brother Gianni – founder of the Versace brand – were inserted into the fashion world. 

After finishing her studies at the Faculty of Florence – where she studied to be a teacher, specializing in foreign languages- Donatella moved to Milan to work at the brand with her brother. At first, she went into public relations, but then, in 1989, she became the creative director of Versace’s Versus line and accessories, starting her career in fashion and becoming one of the biggest names in the industry.


Although Giovanni Mario Versace,  better known as Gianni Versace, was nine years older than Donatella, the two were always very close. The designer was responsible for his sister’s platinum blonde hair, which later became a trademark of her iconic look. This happened because, at the time, Gianni was a big fan of Patty Bravo, an Italian singer who had long, platinum blonde hair. So, he convinced Donatella, at the age of 11, to transform her hair, and since then she has never changed.

The two brothers were great partners while working together. She was present at the brand since its launch in 1978 and was considered an inspirational muse and critical advisor to her brother’s projects, who valued her opinions. Furthermore, she also played an important role in planning many fashion shows and advertising campaigns.

Donatella took over the company after Gianni’s murder in 1997, becoming the brand’s creative director. To this day she continues to pay homage to her brother. In 2018 she created “The Versace Tribute Collection” in his honor: “This collection is a tribute to the life and works of Gianni. We pay homage to not only his artistic genius but to who he was as a man, and above all, as my brother,” said Donatella for the collection video.


Donatella played a crucial role in Versace’s success. Although she officially took over in 1997, she has always been actively involved in the company. In the mid-90s, Donatella was already running the brand, while Gianni was undergoing cancer treatment.

In this decade, she was innovative in bringing pop icons such as Madonna and Christina Aguilera for Versace’s fashion campaigns, integrating pop names into fashion. Furthermore, the designer has great responsibility for the success of supermodels, paying a lot for names like Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford to model for the brand. In this way, she managed to create an intimate relationship between celebrities and the fashion house, which continues to this day.

An example of the integration between pop celebrities and fashion was the phenomenon of Versace’s Jungle Print dress. Launched during the 2000 spring-summer fashion show, the first collection with Donatella at the helm of the brand, the piece became an icon of the brand. The dress achieved worldwide fame when singer Jennifer Lopez wore it at the Grammy Awards and later closed the Milan Fashion Week show with it. The impact was so significant that, according to former Google president Eric Schmidt, the interest generated by images of the artist wearing the dress resulted in the creation of Google Images.

However, even with her great experience working at the Italian brand, Donatella reported for French Vogue that taking over leadership after Gianni’s death was a great challenge. According to her, it was necessary to move away from her brother’s footsteps and find her own identity to feel safe with her work. 

“But I was under a lot of pressure after Gianni was killed; I had to take over creative direction for the house straight away. (…) I thought I was capable of taking over, but when I started I realized that it was a lot more difficult than I thought. I wondered if it had only been Gianni’s presence that had made me feel capable”, she said.

Since then, Donatella has applied a new look to Versace, adding new segments, such as the makeup line, and aligning the company with the world’s new ways of thinking. Thanks to her, the brand continues to launch iconic collections, maintaining relevance and still being one of the main names in the industry.


Donatella Versace is known not only for her creative talent in fashion but also for her remarkable personal life, which has had ups and downs. After the tragic murder of her brother, the designer faced difficult times and had to fight cocaine addiction, which had an impact on her family and career.

In 2000, Donatella separated from former model Paul Beck, whom she had married in 1986. The couple had two children, Allegra, who inherited 50% of the family’s fashion house, and Daniel. Later, in 2004, the designer remarried Manuel Dallori, but the marriage ended in divorce a year later. Since then, Donatella has remained single.


For many, Donatella Versace is truly an icon in the fashion industry, known for her striking personality and unique style. In 2017, her recognition as an icon was solidified by receiving the Fashion Icon Award at the Fashion Awards.

However, her influence goes beyond her admirers, as she is also highly respected by her colleagues in the fashion world. In 2016, Donatella was chosen by Riccardo Tisci to pose in Givenchy’s winter campaign. Furthermore, she is a figure who has been played and mentioned in several film productions, such as “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Saturday Night Live” and is honored in a song by Lady Gaga.


After leading the brand for 27 years, Donatella is being asked about her future at the brand. In an interview with Vogue, the designer expressed her desire to find a new creative director to take the lead, recognizing the importance of bringing in new ideas and talent to nurture the brand’s creativity. However, to date, a suitable replacement has not yet been found.

“I’m open to new things, it’s important to have the courage to accept new ideas and understand that there comes a time when change needs to happen”, she told Vogue magazine.

The article above was edited by Gabriela Travizzanutto.

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Julia Noda

Casper Libero '26

Aluna de jornalismo da Cásper Libero, que ama escrever sobre moda, filmes, música e política.