It’s no easy feat to combine the perfect level of Eurotrash and chicness. But Donatella Versace does it every day of her fashionable life. After taking over brother Gianni Versace’s line in the wake of his murder in 1997, Donatella proved to everyone just how goddamn amazing she was by not only continuing his line, but also improving sales. Born in Calabria (the capital of sunshine that’s always in vogue), Donatella would go on to achieve the ultimate fashion goddess status by marrying model Paul Beck and then getting divorced.
With a father who was already constantly amid the Italian aristocracy as their personal financier, Donatella was no stranger to the concept of elitism. Sharing a close relationship with Gianni, Donatella followed him to Florence to help inspire some of his first creations, primarily knitwear.
After the death of Gianni, Donatella tried to dial back her drug use, mainly cocaine. She would later admit in 2005 that she had been addicted to the substance for decades. Upping her badass quotient, Donatella noted, “You just feel more awake, more aware… I just kept doing it. Every time I was in New York, in Los Angeles, mostly at parties.” In 2004, Donatella went to rehab at the urging of Elton John. So chic.
So what is the Donatella effect, exactly? It’s making everything seem utterly fabulous no matter how insane or incongruous it would be if a normal person did it (her orange tan is just one case in point). No other fashion designer has this capability. Not even Miuccia Prada.