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Donatella Versace’s 7 Most Valuable Life Lessons: “Family is Everything”

With the brand’s 40th anniversary and a highly-anticipated biopic on the horizon, Versace is releasing Versace (Rizzoli), a new book chronicling her life and work, starting with her early years as label muse and confidante, right through to her current position as brand commander in chief.

1. To be a woman in charge takes grit and determination
“Like any woman, I face assumptions about who I am and what I can do. Women have to prove themselves more than men, have to fight to have their voice heard. Times have changed, and things are getting better for women. We can be all we want to be—I’m an artistic director, I’m a businesswoman, I’m a mother, I’m an advocate for change, and I’m a friend. I think in the 20th century, this was true. It was much harder to be a woman in fashion than a man. It’s not just designers. Women are business executives, CEOs, industry pioneers. There is still room for improvement, but things are changing for the better.”


2. Stand up for what you believe in
“My passion in life is: equality. Versace has always stood for freedom and the right to truly be yourself, no matter who you are and who you love.”

3. Be willing to evolve if you want to succeed
“Every fashion brand, just like every company, has to evolve if it is to succeed. Nothing can stay the same in business, and nothing ever stays the same in fashion. Versace is a place of incredible excitement and energy. It is a house that has possibilities, that is growing, and that is challenging itself. I love my work, and I love that I get to spend my time with some of the most amazing people in the whole industry—my team.”


4. Be true to yourself and trust your instincts
“I know that I am at my best when I am true to myself, and have a strong point of view. There have been times in the past when I had doubts, or was cautious, and that then showed in my work. Each season I have to have the confidence in myself, and the strength to push Versace forward. It is hard work, but the results are clear to me. Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing the strength of Versace right now, and how women around the world are responding to my family’s brand. It gives me the confidence to do more, push further, and make Versace the best it has ever been. As a designer, I see it as part of my duty to push for individuality and power for women, and to push for a more equal world.”

5. Be fearlessness in everything“Be brave and fearless in everything that you do, always, with no compromise, ever.”

6. Put family first
“Family is everything in my career. If your surname is also the name of your brand, and that brand becomes one of the most famous in the world, then family is at the heart of everything. Family means more than just those who have the same name—Versace itself is like an extended family, and I think this is one of our great strengths. We talk, laugh, fight, and respect each other. Working at Versace is more than just a job, it is being part of a family, and this I learned from my upbringing.”

7. Know that creativity is a group effort
“Young designers are my absolute passion. I get to work with some of the most amazing young designers in fashion today. I love to meet young designers just when they are graduating, to see how they grow. But it’s not just the young designers that you’ve heard about. I love to work with young designers in my design studio in Milan. Young graduates come from design colleges around the world to work in my studio, and to share their passion, energy, and creativity. In fashion, there are the designers that are famous, but there are also many more behind the scenes, who make fashion what it is today. Many designers never want their own label—they want to work behind the scenes. Their contribution is crucial at every single fashion house.”