Strength. Power. Fearlessness. Passion. Bravery. Femininity. These are all part of how you feel when you wear Versace.
Women live complex lives; we’re complex people, with many different sides to what we do every single day. When I’m designing my collections, I’m always thinking about the woman today and the intricacies in her life. She flies high in her career, she has her family, her friends, her social life, her private life. Most importantly, however, she has control of her own life, more than ever before. This to me is the new power of women, and the power that I want to express in my shows. It’s everything to me and has always been a driving force.
Like any woman, though, I face assumptions about who I am and what I can do. In the last 10 years, I feel like I’ve finally found my true voice at Versace. I love every aspect of my work and I’m lucky, I have the best job in the world. But I’m also human. I often doubt myself, or have anxiety about what I’m doing. What I’ve learned is to trust my instincts. I have to believe in myself and push forward and be challenged because it’s then that I do my best work. I think, with anything in life, the things that are easy can then become boring. I’m impatient. I get bored easily. I want to know what’s going to happen next. It was true when I was a teenager, ready to take on the world, and it’s true now as an artistic director, and as a businesswoman.
But at which point did I feel the strongest in my career? I feel that point is yet to come.
My late brother Gianni always told me to be strong and to be true to myself. He was a real individual, with his own mind and his own beliefs. So much has changed in the world in the 20 years since he was taken from us. It’s impossible to imagine the incredible ways he would’ve been inspired by the positive changes in societies globally and the changing role of women. All I know is that he had achieved so much, but had really only just begun. He had so much more to give to the world.
If we look back to his shows in the 1990s with Naomi Campbell, the supermodels were all about bold individuality. Naomi’s ‘stomp’ down the runway represented the fearlessness to be yourself on the catwalk, to let your character shine, just like Gianni taught me. I’m so excited that that individuality has returned to the catwalk because this quality has changed everything in fashion.
Before, there used to be one idea of a woman. Now, the design room is very different – when designing I think of so many different women; their bodies, of course, but their attitude and their way of being is equally as important. Versace is built on the power of self. For instance, for the Fall 2017 season I was thinking about what makes women powerful, about what makes us stronger. I believe it’s unity, diversity and equality. But these messages are serious and joyful at the same time. It’s about power and it’s also about pleasure. I want women to enjoy their femininity and their power. It’s about taking pride in your mind and in your body. This means there are so many different ways of being sensual. What counts is that you dress sensually in a way that’s perfect for you
Right now, women such as Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Mica Argañaraz and Adwoa Aboah embody just this; they have their own characteristics and their own style, and because of social media, they connect with a new generation in a totally unique and powerful way. For Gigi and her friends, they’re able to share their lives with their fans and followers all around the world. And by doing so, they have a new sense of independence and power. They’re truly allowed to be themselves, use their voice for what they believe in, and be an inspiration for people all over the world.
Lady Gaga is another one; she’s one of the most incredible stars in pop culture right now. Everything she does is daring. She, like Gigi, is successful on her own terms. They both stand on their own and do not compromise their originality for anyone and I really am so honoured to call them my friends.
Now women can be all they want to be: business executives, CEOs, industry pioneers – I’m an artistic director, I’m a businesswoman, I’m a mother, I’m an advocate for change and I’m a friend. Unfortunately, though, we still have to prove ourselves more than males, we have to fight to have our voices heard. There’s still room for improvement. This is where fashion can often make very important statements about the way we all should be able to live.
I’ve always been excited about the future, about what’s yet to come. If I had all the millennial women in the world lined up in front on me, I’d tell them to always remember to be strong, put your point across and stay true to your ideas, even if they’re not right yet. And be yourself.
After all, it’s what Gianni told me. I know that he’s with me, and by my side, always. And with this, I’m always looking forward.