Wednesday, 31 July 2013
Still Have Love For My Inspiration
A few days ago, I came across an article on the Daily Beast about one of my favorite fashion houses, Versace. The article was called Fashion Disaster: How The House Of Versace Went From Rags To Riches And Back Again. The article documented how Versace had the power and glamour in the 90's (Gianni was alive, the supermodels ruled the world and were all over the campaigns), were on the verge of being a force in the stock market, and setting the tone for brash, flashy, rock and roll and party girl style. It also documented Gianni's murder in Miami, the downward spiral that began with Donatella's cocaine addiction, erratic behavior, and the company's refusal to change with the times.
I've read many articles about the House of Versace. Some praised the house, others tore it apart but this particular article hit a nerve for me. You see, Versace is the label, the house, the company that made me want to be a designer full time!!! Seeing all of the glamour of the supermodels, having fun in his clothes on and off shoots, in night clubs, parties, and red carpet events made me want to be a part of that world!!! I've even tried to get a job in the Versace store in Miami when I was living there, which was just a few steps away from Gianni's house. To see an article saying that the house is having some issues really shook me.
When Gianni was murdered, his older brother, Santo took over the business side and younger sister, Donatella took over the creative side. The fashion world at first, didn't take her seriously, given her known reputation for being a party girl and they thought that in trying to make her mark within the company, she would stray from his vision. In between mourning her brother, keeping his vision and business afloat, and trying to get her vision in there without losing the customer base, she was dealing with a notorious cocaine habit that made her erratic, causing her to make decisions that didn't benefit the company nor creative decisions that kept Versace at the top.
What also didn't help was their stubbornness about changing the business to go with the times, and keeping up the extravagant lifestyle when the sales weren't able to support it. Hiring outsiders to fix it, didn't help when they either didn't want to know about how their business worked (more numbers oriented and less creative), or when they would bring the ideas to Donatella, it would be a constant butting of heads and arguments. It would get to the point that they would just quit because there was no getting through to her in that (coked up) state.
Just to keep things going, they had to sell Gianni's home on Miami Beach (it's a Versace museum/tourist attraction on South Beach) and other pieces of real estate to not just cover the huge inheritance tax, but to also cover some things for the company. It had got so out of control that Elton John had to stage an intervention.
Things got back on track, when Donatella got clean but it was too little too late. The wind swayed to Gucci by Tom Ford and every other house that was trailing behind Versace in the beginning, has now surpassed them and become billion dollar luxury brands. Versace is still a contender, but now it has to play catch-up with the rest of the fashion world.
The main problem has been consistency. Donatella leaped away from the bright, poppy colors that got everyone's attention to more darker, somber colors that still had the sexiness, but quite subdued, which confused their base and messed with the sales. When your product is not consistent, it makes it harder to keep your customer base. Also starting lines and then killing them off in the middle can get quite expensive and really mess with production and in keeping product in the stores. I've loved the looks that have come through Donatella's vision, but those looks also have to transfer into sales and a lot of them didn't work.
To me, they are still the inspirational house that I've always loved. Every house has it's issues and I'm sure they are learning from all of their mistakes and moving forward. Donatella is no longer fighting and things are on an upswing. Sometimes you have to go back to basics to start again.
All the best, Santo, Donatella, Allegra (Donatella's daughter and the light of Gianni's eye) and especially, Gianni!!!! You have inspired this dreamer to be a part of this glamourous world that you have created with your clothes, your campaigns and your personalities!!!!! I will support you and love you no matter what anyone says!!!!!
Stay fashionable and sexy!!!!!