Check out the full interview, conducted by female emcee Nicki Minaj. Speaking on a variety of topics, the Vice President of the Versace Group transitions from small talk to Minaj’s music to Versace’s feelings towards the legendary Prince. The conversation then shifts to the luxury brand’s forthcoming spring 2012 collection, which bears an “under the sea” theme. Excerpt from the interview are offered below:
How are you?
Very good. How do you feel today? Your eye is better?
I’m feeling better. I had a little health scare yesterday with my eye. But I drugged myself up and got really drunk and passed out, and now I’m feeling better.
Sometimes that’s the only therapy that works anyway. I can’t wait for the show. It will be amazing.
I know. Everyone is talking about it.
I love “Super Bass.” But the song I’d really love to hear you sing is “I’m the Best.”
You like that song?
Love that song. Love it.
I wanted to talk a bit about the recent collections. We’re really seeing the influence of Versace a lot right now in fashion. I think a lot of critics were excited to see the return of some of the iconic house codes in your Fall 2011 collection—the studding, cut-outs, micro-shorts, Miami art deco colors, and Medusa heads, and stuff like that. Was there a specific reason why you chose to return to the history of Versace for that collection?
The reason I did it is that I feel like so many young people today don’t know Versace’s past and what it stands for, so I wanted to make an homage to that history in the collection. Of course, you can never put out the same thing exactly as it was because we live in different times, but I wanted to show with that collection where Versace comes from. I felt the Medusa is an iconic sign because people in the past were afraid of the Medusa. In mythology, the Medusa can petrify people with a look—which is a good thing, I think. [laughs] But the Medusa is a unique symbol—something strong. It’s about going all the way. That’s why I do things like the H&M collaboration, because I want to reach a bigger audience of young people. These are the people I look to for inspiration, so I wanted to make it affordable for them to buy a piece in the Versace style. Versace was—and still is—about the sophisticated woman who is elegant, not afraid of her own sensuality, and not afraid to dare or take risks in life. I think women are much stronger than men in society now. We take more risks than they do in general . . . I mean, there she is: Nicki Minaj.
Where do you find your inspiration? Would you say you’ve had a muse at any point?
Well, my muse changes all the time because I think every designer is a bit of a muse for themselves in a way—they just don’t want to say it. But I also think Madonna was an influence in the ’90s. I love her. I think she’s the most amazing, talented woman around . . . She’s an incredibly well-styled woman. Prince, obviously, is someone I’ve been close to also. I think Lady Gaga today is very inspiring. But as a designer, you always take facets of different people and you mix them together with your own thoughts and information and creativity and passion—because I think fashion has a lot to do with passion—and that’s where you get your inspiration.
I wanted to talk to you a little bit about growing up with Gianni. You’re from the southern part of Italy, right?
I grew up in the south of Italy, next to the sea, which was a great place to grow up. The type of life we lived there was very relaxing, you know? Just very fun, open-minded people . . . It was all very sociable and low-key. I was the youngest one in the family, so it was nice for my brother and I. But fashion was always in the air. My mother worked as a seamstress, and Gianni was always looking at the dresses she would make for clients.
So how old were you when you started to get into what Gianni was doing?
Well, I studied at a university in Florence and finished my degree. My mother was very strict about this recipe: You need to get your degree. So this was in the ’80s, and around that time, Gianni had gotten his first job in fashion for another company, so on the weekends I used to go see him because we were a one-hour train ride away from each other. When I’d see him, he was always working, and he would ask me what I thought about his work, like, “What do you think?” So he got me into this, really, because I’d studied something different at university. It was really the way our family was, because Gianni really trusted women’s opinions, and he felt it was his sister who was able to tell him the truth. So this is how it started.