Having been at the helm of the Versace empire as artistic director since 1997, Donatella Versace has overseen the growth of the group’s luxury clothing lines alongside the expansion into accessories, home furnishings and hotels, creating a luxury lifestyle brand which was forecast to hit $850 million in revenue in 2018. As both artistic director and vice president of the board, she is responsible for the overall vision of the house, from its catwalk collections and image, to its global growth and future in the digital world.
In 2018, the company was acquired by Michael Kors Holdings — now rebranded Capri Holdings — for a value of $2.1 billion. Donatella and her family now own €150 million ($176 million) in group stock.
The youngest of Versace siblings, Donatella had a particularly strong bond with her brother Gianni the founder of the storied label — she became head designer at Versus in 1994 — and was the natural successor to him after his death in 1997. Ms Versace debuted her first collection for Atelier Spring/Summer 1998 on a see-through catwalk held over the swimming pool at the Ritz Hotel in Paris which resulted in instant acclaim from industry insiders.
The larger-than-life mogul is credited with having retained a coveted status for the Atelier Versace and ready-to-wear lines. As a tribute Gianni Versace on the 20th anniversary of his death she enlisted '90s supermodels including Naomi Campbell , Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer to walk the runway in the lamé dresses that the brand made famous, receiving a standing ovation.
The celebrated designer has also overseen the repositioning of the Versus line, appointing Christopher Kane in 2009 to revive the brand, followed in 2012 by Jonathan ( JW) Anderson , who designed a capsule collection for the label. In 2013, Versace announced that Anthony Vacarello would be the latest designer to produce a capsule collection for the label. The success of this saw Vacarello hired as Versus Versace's permanent creative director and the line more than double its year-on-year revenues in 2014 — he departed in 2016.
In 2008 Versace was appointed as an honorary chair of London’s Fashion Fringe initiative founded by acclaimed journalist Colin McDowell . An active philanthropist, Versace serves as patron of the Elton John AIDS Foundation and in 2010 was awarded a “Do Something” award by VH1 for her contributions to charitable work. In December 2017, Donatella Versace was awarded with the “Fashion Icon” award during the Fashion Awards, while in 2018 she won the International award at the CFDA. That same year she was honoured as “Designer of the Year” both by British GQ and by GQ China, and awarded the “Fashion Icon Award” at the GQ Awards in Berlin. She has also received the CNMI Award in recognition of sustainability at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards in 2018.