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Donatella’s model manifesto

There is not enough ego!" announces Donatella Versace emphatically, and then laughs. We are sitting in her apartment in Milan and she is bemoaning the state of the fashion industry, particularly the facelessness of many of the models.

It is not surprising as, among many other credits in her career, Donatella Versace, along with brother Gianni, was instrumental in the rise of the supermodel, beginning with the Versace autumn/winter 1991 show.

"When my brother put on the runway Christy, Linda, Cindy and Naomi together -- they sang Freedom, and George Michael was in the audience -- that was an iconic moment. That moment was when supermodels really became supermodels. It was the print girls' move to the runway, and that was something that felt new too -- the print girls were not usually catwalk girls."

In fact it was Donatella who had encouraged her brother to use this breed of model, as she clarifies: "It was a time when designers were afraid of models with fame. They were afraid that the clothes would be overtaken by the fame of the models.


"I said to Gianni: 'Do not be afraid like everybody else, because it is just stupid. Fame on fame means more fame! It does not take away anything; it adds.' It gave personality to the clothes, it gave things an edge that a runway show needs, otherwise it can be so boring."

And for Donatella, as she says in her husky voice with that very Italian emphasis, woe betide anything that is "boring". She has little truck with "pretentious" either. She says: "There is an idea of neutrality in models now. Little make-up, no expression, like a robot . . . That is very stupid. It is almost as if the models have to have the appearance of something serious, to give an intellectual base, but they themselves are rarely like that.


"And the roots of fashion are essentially fun. It is something that women wear to make themselves feel better, that shouldn't be forgotten. When you take the joy out of fashion, it is not fashion any more."

Things are just that little bit larger than life with Donatella: the hair is blonder, the heels are higher. But there is also a slightness and softness. The moment she begins to talk, she's quick to laugh and make fun of herself. For example, she once said of her peroxide blonde hair: "I don't even know what my natural colour is. Natural? What is natural? What is that? I do not believe in totally natural for women. For me, natural has something to do with vegetables."

She is undoubtedly a fashion icon, and the house of Versace is one of the all-time greats in fashion's business of seduction. It quickly understood that the power of the fashion photograph, the show and celebrity, plus the supermodel, are as important as the design of the actual garment.

"I have come back to shoot a campaign I am really proud of for spring/summer," Donatella announces. "It is with Georgia Jagger and was shot by Mario Testino. It is something special."