Immediately upon tapping on Donatella Versace’s Instagram page, one sees a suggestive profile picture of the designer under a rainbow filter – perhaps leveraging her support for the LGBTQIA community. Below that sits her bio, which reads: “Believe in individuality and the freedom to be whoever you want to be.”
If you’re not familiar with Donatella Versace, you probably should be. She is the Chief Creative Officer of Versace, and the equally talented sister to the late Gianni Versace, who founded the company and passed in 1997, leaving it in her hands. She’s also kind of an activist.
Gianni Versace was famously gay, and Donatella Versace is famously an ally. In 2019 she was named a Stonewall Ambassador to commemorate the Stonewall Riots (1969), which were some of the first large protests in favor of LGBTQIA rights in the United States.
Knowledgeable of her wealth, Versace is a proclaimed philanthropist and has even won awards and positions as a result; her efforts put into the AIDS issue has earned her a “Do Something” award and a seat on the board for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, as well as an “Award of Courage.”
Donatella is well-recognized for her success-despite attitude. She dealt with the death of her brother (who was brutally murdered on the steps of his Miami home), a cocaine addiction, a fatal cigarette addiction, and the losses of friends within the fashion industry. And despite it all, she recovered and continued. She proved that she, a strong woman, could keep the Versace name alive, and perhaps better it.
What is most interesting is her most recent collection, Spring/Summer 2021, which debuted during September 2020 New York Fashion Week. The bright colors, elaborate patterns, and intricate designs were all present as per usual, but there was something more with this collection. Specifically, the models who walked the runway.
The show was chock-full with models of color and size diversity, and what makes it all the more special is that it wasn’t advertised. It was not a “plus-sized” collection, but rather a collection designed for everyone, which is something that fashion houses continue to fail to do. Versace didn’t release a statement about their efforts to hire models of color or models of different body types – it was all about the fashion. The clothing. The show itself.
As previously mentioned, the fashion industry continuously fails to this day to show its allyship in a way that isn’t performative. It was incredibly refreshing to see a picture on Versace’s Instagram account of over twenty million followers of a model of realistic size without a “plus-sized” caption to go with it.
While the fashion industry reels with toxic ideals (while being the contributor-at-large of mainstream media), Donatella Versace is a powerful woman within who seems to be changing the game.