Titled “Fashion Disaster,” Dana Thomas has written an enthralling article in this week’s Newsweek about the lows that Versace has faced following the untimely death of Gianni Versace on the steps of his Miami mansion in 1997.
Unbeknownst to me, Versace, at the time of the Italian designer’s death, was making over $1 billion in annual sales. Now, over a decade later the house is taking in less than half of that amount. Of course, this can’t all be due to Donatella and Co’s mismanagement (and lavish personal lifestyle). The economic landscape has changed and the decadence, ornate-ness, and flashy-ness that is so deeply associated with the Italian fashion house are not even close to being as in "en vogue" as they were in the 80’s, 90’s, and early turn of the century.
The article discusses the sudden and surprising departure of Giancarlo Di Risio, who was the company’s CEO for five years. Reportedly, Di Risio was at odds with Donatella Versace about strategic ways to deal with the economic downward spiral, including cutting back on Donatella’s high-spending lifestyle, and various creative matters.
A source is quoted as saying that “there was zero expense control in the company, and the lifestyle was absolutely, positively insane. When the earnings went down, the lifestyle didn’t.” In fact, despite Donatella was all smiles at a number of very public events in New York City recently, but Versace laid of 350 workers just a few days ago.
The most interesting part of Thomas’ look at the fashion house comes when she discusses the possibility of the always-family run business continuing without the Versace family’s involvement. Supposedly, Versace may be coming to terms with this idea – though I can’t begin to imagine the hard-to-miss platinum blond no longer being the creative force behind the iconic label.