Donatella’s New Day: ‘Stronger’ Than Ever As Business Revamps

Feeling better than ever, Donatella Versace, who spent six weeks in rehab this summer for drug-related issues, was in London to promote her latest fragrance.

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A look from the spring collection.

Photo By Giovanni Giannoni

LONDON — “I’m proud, I’m passionate. I’m a fighter — and a survivor,” said a bright-eyed, upbeat Donatella Versace from her penthouse suite at Claridge’s one evening earlier this week.

In London to promote the launch of her latest fragrance Crystal Noir, Versace — who spent six weeks in rehab this summer for drug-related issues — told WWD, “I feel great. I feel strong. Life isn’t easy for anyone, but now I feel like I can face it with strength.”

In her first interview since completing the program in the U.S., Versace downplayed the impact of the break from her design work. Her spring collection, she said, was mostly finished before she left Italy. “Most of it was already done in May, and then I worked on it again in September. I missed, more or less, three weeks of work. And no, I definitely couldn’t work in there,” she said with a throaty laugh, referring to the U.S. clinic.

Dressed in skinny black-and-white wool trousers, a black T-shirt and platform boots, Versace talked animatedly and clearly about fashion, her ambitions for the company, her children and the next chapter of her life.

“I have about three times more work than ever before — and that’s saying a lot. There’s a lot going on: We’re repositioning the company and some of the labels and there’s work to be done,” said Versace over a few Marlboro reds and a glass of still water.

Versace will make a personal appearance at Harrods today to promote the exclusive launch of the fragrance — something she’s rarely done in the past. She’ll also be cutting the ribbon on the new Versace Beauty counter in the store’s famed all-white beauty hall. On Thursday evening, she held a small cocktail party for about two dozen U.K. beauty editors to chat about the fragrance, followed by a small dinner for friends at Cipriani, with guests including Madonna and Guy Ritchie, Mario Testino, George Michael, Elizabeth Hurley, Christian Slater and Joseph Fiennes.

“You can’t avoid the reality of the market these days, and we need to focus on the product. We’re coming from a period when the economy has been bad, when business has been bad. There’s no space even for the smallest mistakes,” she said, adding the company would report sales growth in 2005.
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