Versace Rests On Donatella’s Designs

Since the death of founder Gianni Versace, the Versace house has not quite been the same. After leaving 50 percent of the company to his dear niece, Allegra Versace Beck, and the rest to his sister, Donatella and brother, Santos the company has been on a slow decline in profit. The future of the company now rests on Allegra’s shoulders.

Things have been quite a ride since Donatella took over the company while Allegra was underage. The house nearly went bankrupt, and she has admitted on several interviews that she had problems with drugs. With all the drama ensuing the collections, they were getting less favor from the magazines and department store buyers. Finally, in 2004 things began to change with Allegra taking the reigns and putting Gian Carlo Di Risio as chief executive of the company. Designing responsibilities were also taken away, leaving Donatella with only the main line to design.

Under his guidance, the company cut their debt and was restored to profitability. The five years he was there helped save the company. Five years later, Donatella and her brother Santos voiced their concern for DiRisio’s strategy and he was soon replaced with Gian Giacomo Ferraris, a former Gucci and Jil Sander executive.

Today, after her time in rehabilitation and desire for control again, Donatella is bringing back more of her signature look. As for Ferraris, he already closed Versace’s Japanese business and accessories factory. Now he plans to add bathing suits, underwear, a new watch line, and let’s not forget a mid-price women’s clothing line.

Meanwhile, this story is far from over. Allegra has yet to decide if she will give up her shares in the family business or stay on board and take over the company. Business analysts wonder if Donatella’s sparkly style will sit well with current customers, who are looking for more classic timeless pieces, and finally–will Versace survive the current economic market while dealing with more cash rich competitors? Whatever the case, for now Ferraris is confident in the future success of the company. As for the rest of the world watching this family soap opera, rest assured that the exuberance of Donatella’s designs is back on the market.

For more on the Versace family, check out Deborah Ball’s new book “House of Versace” that will be published next week by Random House.