Donatella Versace’s dolce vita


What is like to be Donatella Versace? As one would imagine, the Milan, Italy-based designer leads an exceedingly fabulous life, but she also has a glam squad on duty to help keep her so fabulous.

In a recent interview with The New York Times from her office, the 59-year-old fashionista also revealed she does not know how to relax, even if she tried. She’s also not as confident as she seems.

Surrounding Versace are personal objects, such as a picture of her in Miami with her famed older brother Gianni Versace, who was slain in South Beach in front of his home in July 1997 at the age of 50. “Those are the moments I cherish in my life.”

Explain a typical day.

I wake up very early in the morning — 6:30 to 7 — and do a little bit in the gym. Not because I love it, but because I need to do it to keep my body healthy. And I have a light breakfast. I have a glam squad, who help me to do hair and makeup every morning. I need a little help. And then I go to the office and talk to my assistants, go through all the mail. And then I go straight downstairs and just wander around.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in books, I find inspiration in memories. I like to travel. I like to look at people on the planes, I like to look at people in the streets in cities. I’m not a person who goes on vacation to retreat or to relax, because relaxing makes me nervous. If I go to relax, I get nervous.

You don’t draw, so how do you communicate your ideas for a new collection?

I think the drawing is the least important thing for today. I communicate through shapes. And proportion. Proportion is the most important thing in an outfit. If you are a really fashion victim, you don’t care about proportion — you’ll do, like, a huge skirt that nobody will walk in and go nowhere. But I’m a real woman, in a real life.

How much do your clothes reflect you?

They reflect me in the sense of a modern woman, probably. But I have a very special body type: I’m not tall, and … I wear certain things. I try to convey this through my clothes: Be determined. Fight for what you believe, don’t be afraid, and get ready to be viewed by critics.

Do you have much distinction between your public and your private lives?

My private life, nobody believes me, is really — when I finish my work, working here, I’ll go to a show or after-party, but when I get home from those things, I lock myself in the apartment, and I don’t want to hear anything. I’m the most anti-social person you can think about. Even if nobody believes me. This is the city where I work, you know. I don’t have too many friends here. Actually I don’t have any friends at all, out of this office. My friends are around the world. I call them on the phone and talk.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

It’s my self-esteem. I trained myself to hide my vulnerability and my insecurity for a long time. I give in to these two emotions only when I am alone. At the end of the day, I’m just kind of thinking, “Is it good enough?” The next day I wake up and I’m like, “Oh, yeah, that was fine.” But usually, in the evening, I have that half an hour that I think I did everything wrong.