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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Donatella Versace confirmed she will no longer show couture on the runway. “It was a painful decision for me,” said the designer, who did not show in July in Paris. “I love couture, but I am also a very modern person. The idea of an entire collection of dresses that can take up to three months to make does not fit into the reality of the business right now. And so much money for what? One show?” she said, adding the budget for the couture show was shifted into additional marketing and advertising for the ready-to-wear collections.

Instead, starting with the spring 2005 season, Versace will integrate a handful of couture pieces into each collection. The pieces will be offered along with made-to-measure in all Versace boutiques. Versace will also be designing one-off pieces for the red carpet — and for her coterie of celebrity pals.

And speaking of celebrities, her decision not to stuff her front row with stars appears to be a temporary measure. “I needed a season to stop and think, and I wanted total focus on the clothes. We’ve had celebrities at the show for 25 years. It’s a natural thing for us, and a pleasure to dress them.”

She also talked about her new approach to parties. This season, Versace invited 45 editors and friends to her home on Milan’s Viale Majno, instead of holding the usual champagne-and-risotto-fueled bash for a cast of hundreds in her late brother Gianni’s old apartments at the Versace palazzo on via Gesú.

“I wanted to do something more intimate and actually have real conversations with people, instead of waving and saying, ‘Hi, how are you?’ I’m really enjoying talking to people privately,” she said.

It’s clear that Versace’s personal and family relationships are more important than ever. Asked about her daughter Allegra’s new role as majority shareholder of the company, she smiled.

“She’s not a colleague! She’s my baby, my daughter. And she’s a very smart girl — and I’m not saying that because I’m her mother. Everyone says it. She wants to know everything about the business, and we talk about business as mother and daughter. We love one another. She’s very focused on her studies right now, and she’s doing brilliantly. I am so proud.” Allegra has just begun her freshman year at a U.S. university.
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