If Donatella Versace Beat Cocaine, She Can Beat the Economy

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Times are especially tough for independently owned labels like Versace. They don't reside in the safety of the big, warm bear arms of a company like LVMH, which can always fall back on Champagne and cognac sales until the world's appetite for luxury goods increases. Last week Versace announced it would cut 26 percent of its workforce, but they don't expect to return to profitability until 2011. Donatella herself is handling it surprisingly well, though. Because, as she notes in the Times, she's gotten over problems before, like cocaine addiction. And even when she was addicted to cocaine, she still went to work.

“If my problem was as big as everyone says, how did I run this company and create all these collections?” said Ms. Versace, whose 2004 stint at a rehabilitation center in Arizona came about only after a group of friends, Elton John among them, staged an intervention during one of these parties at her palazzo on via Gesù in Milan.


“I was dressed up, very glamorous, and I went to the bathroom to do a line,” Ms. Versace said. “I didn’t think anything was strange at the time, but then when I came out, all my friends were sitting in a circle on chairs and they said: ‘You have a problem. We love you. You have to get help.’ ”


So maybe if cocaine wasn't really a problem, the economy isn't either. She may have never seen her friends when they were over since she was always in the bathroom, but she still produced eight collections a year. And she may lose $44 million this year, but that doesn't mean she can't make and wear fabulous clothes herself. Just because her friends and financial journalists think she has a problem doesn't mean it's that big a deal, guys. Come on, now. It's clearly more her new CEO's problem, anyway.

Restructuring Luxury at Versace [NYT]