“GOLLUM!!!!” *throws salt, wields crucifix*
Donatella Versace has a wonderful new interview with The Telegraph (UK) to promote the autumn/winter Versace line which debuted in Milan this week. You should read the full interview – go here. I’m going to do some highlights because, well, I kind of love Donatella. It’s the same kind of love I have for Karl Lagerfeld – when you get to a certain point in the fashion industry, you are always going to be flat-out INSANE. Donatella is incredibly quotable, interesting, kind, blasé, funny and yes, cray-cray. I love her. The highlights:
Being 57 years old and “keeping young”: “How do I keep young?” she growls in a dust-bowl of an accent so thick it sometimes requires subtitles. “Haven’t you heard? I sleep every night in the deep freezer!”
Her “armor”: The flaxen, waist-length extensions, the fake lashes, the Botox (“only on my face, not on my body, that’s the result of hard work”) and stormy expressions – is a front she has been cultivating ever since, aged 11, her big brother Gianni goaded her to peroxide her hair.
She’s BFFs with Miuccia Prada: “It surprises me,” she retorts. They first met in Milan, “at some event, somewhere… I made a joke and she started to laugh and she said let’s go and get some paninis because we’re starving… and off we went. We just talk, talk, talk. She’s so inspiring. We make fun of each other and teach each other. She says, ‘I could never make sexy clothes, but I love them.’ And I say, ‘Well, I love what you do’.”
On feminism: Miuccia Prada recently told me, dejectedly, that feminism was dead in Italy. Does Donatella agree? “Feminism is dead in the world. It comes from another time. I’m a feminist. I want to fight, but I don’t see many people with this desire to fight for something. Women don’t help each other, especially in fashion. I know Miuccia… but that’s it. Nobody else.”
Living up to her brother Gianni: “You’re right,” she says. “I’ve always been hard on myself. I still am. In order to be responsible you need some discipline in your life. For a while I lost mine. But I’ve got it back now. Maybe a bit too much… I’m so disciplined. I’m so on time. What happened to me?”
How discipline works for Donatella: It means working out four times a week (“not in fresh air, I’m not going to pretend I’m a country girl”), rather than giving up smoking. She has cut down – just one packet a day, for which she has created a special cover so that she doesn’t have to keep looking at the Smoking Kills message. Less predictably, she says she loves reading historical biographies – her current book is on Queen Victoria. She tried reading Fifty Shades of Grey , the erotic mega bestseller, but found it too badly written to finish. Actually, she is surprisingly old-fashioned – especially where her children are concerned: “I think there was a time when I was too strict and controlling,” she admits. “I think I asphyxiated my children.”
Her daughter, Allegra: Allegra, her 24-year-old daughter who inherited 50 per cent of the company and who, Donatella says, plays Saffy (the sensible daughter in Ab Fab) to her Eddie, now works in the family business, researching textiles, having previously turned her back on it to act. “I’ve been surprised by her concentration and determination,” says her mother.
Her son: Daniel, her 20-year-old son, is a rock musician living in London. “He’s recording right now. He’s always in the studio but he never lets me listen. He’s very private. He doesn’t want to be recognised as my son. Not that Allegra listens to me, either. Neither of my children listens to me,” she sighs contentedly.
On working with Lady Gaga: Oddly, the two events that proved most restorative were her recent collaborations with Lady Gaga, who is something of a DV doppelgänger in looks as well as spirit, and the high street chain H&M. The former had personally requested that Donatella dress her. “We opened the archives and she was, like, wow, and then I designed some pieces for her and she went crazy.”
Following her instincts: “After Gianni died all these experts kept telling me what would sell and what wouldn’t. After a while I realised nobody knows. He always said, you have to follow your instincts. There was no ‘safe’ with Gianni. He wasn’t a safe person. He kept telling me not to be afraid of anything.”
On family: “Family…” she breaks off. This is the real key to her revival. “You do what you can for them. They don’t listen,” she shrugs. “But if they did they’d be telling me that the most important things in life are strength, determination, loyalty and never giving up. You have to fight for everything.”
So much to love! She get Botox “only on my face, not on my body, that’s the result of hard work.” AMAZING. She’ll work out four times a week (but not in fresh air!) but she won’t give up smoking. She’s a feminist who thinks feminism is dead. I kind of want to marry her. She’s wonderful.
Photos courtesy of WENN.