Interview: Donatella Versace

October 25, 2012

To celebrate the opening of her brand new downtown New York store at 160 Mercer Street in Soho, Donatella Versace flew in from Italy to walk reporters through the boutique and, of course, throw a party later that evening. Decades after being founded by her now-deceased brother Gianni, who guided the brand to tremendous success during the supermodel heyday of early 1990s fashion, Versace has been having a big moment since last October's blockbuster H&M collaboration, which was celebrated with long lines of shoppers and an over-the-top Nicki Minaj concert. Their signature garish prints have since become the trend in fashion in 2012, winding up on almost every major runway and even on FADER's most recent cover, where they were worn by French Montana. Dressed in mesh-bondage boots and smelling like a flower, Ms. Versace took a few minutes to talk with us about her favorite singer (suprise: it's Grimes!), rap music and, most importantly, Naomi, Cindy, Christy and Linda.

What kind of music do you listen to you? I listen to Grimes. I like the voice. I like the kind of effortless way she has when she sings and performs music. It’s not that precise, or that perfect, as so many musicians try to do. She has so much energy. I like Beth Ditto, too. I love her because she’s confident. I love confident women. I think each woman is amazing and glamorous. It doesn’t matter your body. And Beth is so confident, glamorous, so determined in what she was doing that I was amazed.

Ever since Biggie famously wore and rapped about your clothes, rappers have embraced Versace so much. Do you like rap at all? I like rap. I love rap. Of course! I do not have a snobbish attitude against rap. Certain snobby people say in a bad way, “Oh that’s rap.” What do you mean, "that’s rap?" That’s the only new thing today. You don’t get nothing very new if it's not rap.

And Notorious B.I.G. and Lil Kim love you? Right. (laughs) Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've always wanted to try music. Maybe I will become a rapper.

You could be the new Nicki Minaj. Yes, she’s a very good rapper.

Do you Tweet or Facebook? There are people on Facebook that have my name, but that’s not me. I'm very busy. But yes, I tweet. But it’s not my name. So I can say whatever I want. It’s actually one of the amazing cool worlds. I don’t have time to follow people. But I like to talk. It’s also, it’s amazing, but it’s also a way to hide yourself and not have the courage to look in the eyes of somebody and tell them how you feel. That's one thing I don't like.

Do you have a favorite moment from Versace history? The time of the supermodel. When it start it was amazing. I was talking the other day about the excess. It will never happen again, ever, but it was the most fabulous ever. Now, people criticize it as a little too much, a little too excess. But what’s wrong with excess? Nothing. Working with Naomi, Cindy and everyone together, Christy, Linda. It was a real competition between girls, and it would create so much drama.

Do you still see Naomi? Oh, yes.

Do you have one crazy story from that time? No. [laughs]. I will just say that I have a short memory at this point.

Interview: Donatella Versace