How Donatella Versace Built Her $400 Million Empire

Italian fashion designer and businesswoman Donatella Versace has headed the Versace empire as creative director since the death of her brother Gianni. The Italian designer has overseen the overall growth of the luxury brand Versace alongside numerous expansion plans in different businesses such as home furnishings, hotels, accessories, etc. She was able to create a luxury lifestyle brand that would bring in at least $800,000 a year since 2018.

Today, the brand is currently rebranded as Capri Holdings when Michael Kors Holdings purchased the company in 2018. Although the brand was renamed and currently owned by Michael Kors Holdings, Donatella Versace remains Creative Director and Vice Chairman of the Board. administration and she has always overseen the overall vision of the house from the catwalk collections to the brand image in terms of global growth as well as the future of the brand in terms of the digital world.


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Donatella’s entry into the world of fashion

Donatella Versace was born on May 2, 1955 in Reggio di Calabria, Italy. She is the youngest of four children and their father was a salesman while her mother was a seamstress. She had to go through difficult times during her childhood when her older sister Tina died at the age of twelve from an ill-treated tetanus infection that devastated young Donatella. In the mid-1970s, Donatello decided to attend school in Florence, Italy, to study literature and languages, which meant she had to travel to Milan every weekend so she could spend time with her family. . From an early age, she began developing her trademark look by dyeing her hair blonde and using dark eyeliner.


When she finished school, she planned to work for her brother who works in the PR department and she did, but she was more valuable to him as a muse and critic. Thanks to the proximity of her brother’s business to other businesses, she was able to enter the world of fashion. In 1989, Gianni decided to launch a perfume called Blonde to dedicate it to Donatella. He also gave Donatella his own label called Versus in 1989, aimed at young audiences. In the media, she is known as the face of her brother and during the 1990s, the rivalry between her Versace brand and other Armani luxury brands, she brought sleazy glamor to characterize the brand’s appeal. .


Rising to the occasion after Gianni’s death

Gianni was sadly murdered on July 15, 1997 while standing outside the newly rebuilt Casa Casuarina in Miami, Florida. Following the highly publicized murder, an extensive manhunt was conducted, with most members of the Versace family temporarily moving to a remote private resort in the Caribbean region. Shortly after Gianni’s death, Donatella was promoted to artistic director of the Versace group company, Gianna’s estate was then inherited by their family with 30% going to their brother Santo, 20% going to Donatella and the 50 % remaining went to Donatella’s daughter, Allegra, whom she didn’t have until she was 18.


Life must go on for Donatella’s family, and just a year and three days after her brother’s death, she staged her very first haute couture show at the Hotel Ritz Paris for Versace Atelier. She built a stunning runway above the hotel pool, which her brother has done almost every season, but this time she used clear glass. She was eventually promoted to head the company but her first year at the head of the company was a bit unsettled but she defined the brand as a new feminist proposition meaning their brand.

As head of the company, Donatella was able to design advertising campaigns for Versace that included celebrities such as Madonna, Cristina Aguilera, Demi Moore, Courtney Love, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj and many more. She even designed a Love Green Versace dress called Jungle Dress for Jennifer Lopez which the singer wore for the 42nd Grammy Awards in 2000.


Maintaining the prestige of Versace

When Versace designed the dress for Jennifer Lopez, the brand gained popularity. Since then, the brand has acquired so much prestige thanks to the skills and talent of Donatella. With Versace’s established popularity and influence in the fashion world, Donatella decided to sell around 20% of her Versace company to the investment company Blackstone, this decision increased the value of the Versace company to around 1 $.4 billion in total, with Allegra’s stake worth $700 million and Donatella’s stake worth $280,000.

In 2018, Donatella again negotiated the sale of their business, but this time she decided to sell the entire business to Michael Kors Holdings. On September 25, 2018, the Michael Kors Company announced that it had been able to reach an agreement with Versace to acquire the entire company for $2.2 billion. The move netted Donatella about $440,000 after selling his 20% stake in the company. Currently, the Versace family still owns approximately $176 million worth of shares in the group. The takeover agreement stipulates that Donatella will remain chairman and chief executive officer of the company. It’s a win-win for both companies as Donatella can still run the business and Michael Kors Holdings derives revenue from the brand every year. It has been estimated that Versace’s annual income is around $800,000.


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Sources: Trending News Buzz, Celebrity Net Worth, Business of Fashion

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