Sep 22, 2009
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Crisis is an opportunity, designer Versace says

Sep 22, 2009

MILAN (Reuters Life!) - The world financial crisis is an opportunity, allowing more creative ideas to come about, Italian designer Donatella Versace said, adding consumers wanted to be stimulated at this time.

Platinum blond Versace, whose gowns are a favorite for celebrities on the red carpet, also said she expected the United States to be the first market to recover from the crisis.

"The crisis is a big opportunity -- it offers more stimulus for creativity ... more ideas come about," Versace told Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore in an interview on Tuesday 22 September. "To say that (consumers) only invest in things that last for years is to trivialize -- if it were like that we would all close down. You need to incite them."

The fashion house appointed a new chief executive in June, Gian Giacomo Ferraris, after his predecessor resigned. Newspapers had reported ex-CEO Giancarlo Di Risio and Versace had disagreed sharply over strategy, especially cost cuts.

The fashion house denied any friction.

"The new CEO has understood my way of thinking and has great respect for creativity," Versace said, adding now the aim was to focus on the core business. "We need to re-evaluate the importance and identity of the brand, concentrate on our DNA. Brand extensions are to be forgotten."

As the crisis saps demand for expensive designer items, some luxury goods makers are offering a wider range of products at the lower end of their price range or have even trimmed prices.

"In the high range, all prices fell 20 percent, no one can get out of that. Rationalizing costs is right but without taking away the quality," Versace said, adding the group plans to open two new stores in Las Vegas by the end of 2009 and early 2010.

"I am convinced that the United States will be the first (market) to recover because they are the trendsetters of the world. If you are strong in the United States, you are strong all over the world," Versace said.

Versace said the fashion house was not looking at a market listing.

(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian, editing by Paul Casciato)

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