With more than 300 Oxford University students, and designer personalities Erdem and Christopher Kane clutching to her every word as a speaker at the Oxford Union, designer Donatella Versace proved that she is more than a peroxide-blonde woman of glamour.
Interviewed by journalist Tim Blanks, Versace expressed her excitement at having been given the chance to participate in this famous tradition. “My classmates from back then would be very amused to see me at Oxford today. And I’m sure there will be others who will be astonished to find me addressing the Union. But maybe I can surprise a few people?” Indeed, the designer surprised the audience with her insightful take on issues that involved fashion, style, and feminism among others.
The audience was afforded a miniature peek into the sensitivity that resides in Versace as she spoke about how she uses fashion to protect her. “Fashion is a weapon that you can use when you need it. I think my own look makes people think I’m tough but when they get to know me I’m very different. It’s like armour that was useful to me in the first years after Gianni’s death.” Versace however, didn’t unhinge the window to her soul as she was careful in saying that she didn’t want sound like a martyr, but “to make the point that I used my personal image to hide all these emotions.”
Amid the tough exterior she’s been known to evoke, Versace showed off the light-heartedness she also possess when she spoke of her love for reality television shows, the instance Elizabeth Taylor stole a vintage ring from her, and her phase as an Axel Rose groupie.
While she may have left a number of exquisite bits of wisdom, hearing her desire to dress the Queen left a mark that truly resonated beyond the four walls of the Oxford Union. “If I could dress anyone I’d like to dress the Queen—she can handle anything,” said Donatella. “I’d put her in black—she never wears black—and add a little leather, maybe. A little rock ‘n’ roll,” she adds. Seeing the Queen in a leather skirt and studded suit blazer may be a far-fetched dream, but then again, Versace is a queen in her own right as well—an intimidating queen of her fashion empire, that is—yielding her every desire almost entirely possible.