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Donatella Versace on carrying on the legacy of her late brother Gianni

The Queen of Fashion leads the January issue of Attitude - available to download and to order globally now.

By Steve Brown

No brand symbolises luxury and fabulosity quite like the house of Versace.

For four decades, the Italian super-brand’s flashy prints and gold Medusa head logo have become a symbol of extravagance and high living. It celebrates the finer things in life, but uncompromising quality also makes up its DNA.

And the woman at its centre is a living legend, whose name connotes power and exudes authority: Donatella Versace.

In a world exclusive interview with Jodie Harsh in the January issue of Attitude – available to download and to order globally now – the fashion icon speaks candidly about carrying on the legacy of her brother Gianni since the designer’s murder in 1997 with a diverse and open-minded approach to fashion.

“I’m very, very proud of my brother because when he came out we were in Miami and nobody was coming out,” Donatella says.

Donatella Versace, shot by Vijat Mohindra exclusively for the January issue of Attitude

 “He was the first of the first to be completely comfortable with his sexuality. I remember being 11 years old in Italy and he said, ‘You know what? I’m gay’, and I thought, ‘Ah, now I understand!’

“Two hours later, his friend, a hairdresser, came over and started bleaching my hair blonde. We went little by little in a week.

“I first had highlighter, then went blonder, then it was totally platinum — and my mother wanted to kill him! ‘Leave her alone!’ Gianni was, ‘Blonder, blonder, blonder!'”

Donatella, who currently holds the title of vice president of the Versace Group, also opens up about her work with the Elton John Aids Foundation – a commtiment which began with her late brother’s work during the height of the Aids crisis.

“Gianni first created a foundation to raise money for the Aids crisis very early on, back in the 1980s. Someone asked him to help with the buying of medication, it was very expensive particularly when you took care of people with HIV,” she recalls.

“So, Gianni put on a concert in the Piazza Duomo (Cathedral Square). Sting came, Elton John came, Sylvester Stallone, Cindy Crawford… It was something that Milan had never seen before, a huge event to help those affected by the condition.

“We raised so much money, it was insane. So, the help started there, and then of course Elton John is just the most open-hearted, generous person I’ve ever met and I work with him through his foundation and his fund-raising charity events.

“He calls me and I go — I help whenever I can.”

Read our world exclusive interview with Donatella Versace in the January issue of Attitude, out now.

Buy now and take advantage of our best-ever subscription offers: 3 issues for £3 in print, 13 issues for £19.99 to download to any device.