Icon is a word that’s thrown round an awful lot nowadays. Especially by us. Sorry. But the word could not be more apt in regard to Ms. Donatella Versace, who, having achieved a level of indisputable and irrefutable icon status over the past decades, is being given a shiny and expensive (we presume) award at this year’s Fashion Awards – just to make it official. In celebration of this incredible woman and all her outstanding contributions to fashion, we’ve done our bit and dug up a quick-fire conversation Natalie Dembinska had with Dona back in 2011. How do you say fabulous in Italian?
NATALIE DEMBINSKA: Name?
DONATELLA VERSACE: Donatella Versace.
DV: Didn’t your mother teach you that it’s rude to ask a lady her age?
ND: Occupation and current employer?
DV: Creative director at Versace S.p.A
ND: First job in fashion?
DV: Working for my brother, Gianni, at Versace.
ND: What’s new?
DV: Spring/Summer 2012, which I am designing at the moment.
ND: How did you get started?
DV: I came to Milan to help Gianni with his ad campaigns while I was still studying languages at the University of Florence.
ND: What does it take to get to the top of the tree?
DV: Hard work and an idea of what you want to do when you get there.
ND: Fashion is?
DV: Passion… My job!
ND: Do you ever wear your own designs?
DV: Of course, all the time.
ND: What inspires you?
DV: Rock music.
ND: Fashion is?
DV: Glamour and sexiness.
ND: How important are hemlines?
DV: Very – where a dress ends is crucial to how it looks and what it feels like to wear…
ND: Can you multi-task?
DV: I am a working mother, what do you think?
ND: What would you like on your epitaph?
DV: She was a good mother and friend, and not a bad fashion designer either.
ND: Are you only as good as your last collection?
DV: All designers are up to a point. But the more established you are, the more you are allowed a little leeway.
ND: Are you, or were you, as juvenile delinquent?
DV: Not a delinquent, but certainly a rebel.
ND: Are you a smokey somethin’?
DV: I certainly hope so.
ND: Do you get jealous of other designers?
DV: No – I love to see other people’s creative talent.
ND: Do you get recognised on the street? Do you have, or have you ever had, a stalker?
DV: I do, and no, luckily I haven’t.
ND: Have you ever thrown a diva strop?
DV: What do you mean?! How dare you! Get out of here!
ND: What do you think about the way most people dress?
DV: They’d look better in Versace.
ND: Was there a particular point when you started to get ambitious?
DV: I’m still not that ambitious, actually. I just love what I do.
ND: Have you always been all about fashion?
DV: Yes, ever since Gianni dyed my hair blonde when I was eleven.
ND: Are you a legend? Legendary?
DV: That’s not for me to say.
ND: Dallas or dynasty? Sue Ellen or Alexis?
ND: Have you ever lied in an interview?
DV: No. But then I could be lying…
ND: Do you have a mentor? A muse? Who and what are they?
DV: My mentor was, and always will be, my brother Gianni – he taught me everything I know about fashion. As for muses, I don’t really believe in them, although I do like to find Versace blondes. Currently, that would be January Jones.”
ND: Are you a believer in healthy competition?
DV: Yes, absolutely, but only if it is healthy.
ND: What did you have for dinner last night?
DV: Fish and salad.
ND: How many licks does it take to get to the centre of it?
DV: As many as it takes.
ND: Can you wrap your legs around your neck like Janice Dickinson?
ND: If you could be a superhero, which one would you be and why?
DV: I would be Wonder Woman, but instead of the Stars and Stripes, my costume would be based on the Italian Tricolore flag. I’d like to be able to fly. In heels, of course.
ND: What is good design?
DV: Clothes that are beautifully made and make you look sexy and glamorous, and make you feel wonderfully confident.
ND: Do you remember your first dress? Show?
DV: Strangely, I don’t – I remember impressions more clearly, like the ‘electricity’ in the backstage, hoping I wouldn’t get anything wrong.
ND: What’s vulgar?
DV: Boring design is vulgar.
ND: Have you ever banned anyone from your show because of a bad review? Would you?
DV: No, I haven’t and wouldn’t – I don’t think that would be very professional.
ND: How pretentious are you on a scale of 1-10?
DV: I’m not nearly as pretentious as this questionnaire is!
Photograph by Alexei Hay, taken from issue 35 of 10 Magazine, Summer/Autumn 2010
Taken from issue 39 of 10 Magazine, Summer/Autumn 2011