Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Donatella, the Versace Family and an Unnecessary Book

Photo courtesy

A cold and dull Milan morning yesterday was enlivened by interviewing Donatella Versace in the beautiful apartment in via Gesu where Gianni used to live and entertain. She was on great form and everything went without a hitch. Being an absolutely useless linguist, I am always amazed at how competent others are. Donatella was totally relaxed, even though she is in the last throes of preparing her new collection, due to be shown during Milan Fashion Week in two weeks' time. She is a rare thing in fashion – super high-glam yet totally down to earth and practical. She has just come to the end of her role as chair of Fashion Fringe @ Covent Garden to which she brought a sympathetic and understanding approach for all our finalists, even inviting them over to Milan to see her menswear show and then tour the ateliers – an experience they will never forget.

A new 'tell-all' book about the Versace family and the problems they have faced and overcome since Gianni's death has just been published. One has to ask, what on earth for? Despite the claim that it reveals 'the untold story', the facts are already common knowledge and this book adds nothing to them. The author is employed by The Wall Street Journal, although not as a fashion specialist, and I assume that is what persuaded the Versace organisation, which has refused many other overtures by publishers, to co-operate. I imagine they did so on the assumption that the esteem in which the newspaper is held would ensure a fair and even-handed account.

That's not what this book provides. Instead, it is slick, shallow journalism. Like most of the writing in The Wall Street Journal, it is dull; but, unlike the newspaper, it is also slipshod: contradictory statements appear even on the same page. This is hack work, I'm afraid, and as such I hope it will die very quickly, just as similar books on Calvin Klein and Yves Saint Laurent did.

All of which makes me a little sad and – not for the first time – more than a little ashamed of the more opportunistic members of my profession. I can't imagine anyone for whom fashion is important sticking with this book for more than 20 minutes.


  1. I beg to differ on the writing in the Wall Street Journal being dull!

    I was just thinking about how one of my favorite brand-image stories was a WSJ article on Tiffany's problem with the success of its sterling-silver jewelry and its decision to scale back.

  2. Colin - another fascinating read.
    How do you do it - what's your secret?

  3. Remind me to tell you about fashion on the WSJ! LLGxx