The Book of the Week is “House of Versace” by Deborah Ball, published in 2010. This is the story of how a family and its business recovered from a tragedy.
The two brothers, Santo and Gianni, and a sister, Donatella, started running a high-end clothing design business in the 1970’s. Gianni became the indispensable partner. His talent lay in creating trend-setting clothing and changing the culture of the fashion industry. Donatella recruited celebrities to wear the Versace brand by sending them free products and inviting them to lavish parties.
Around 1990, Versace began to woo female models whose faces appeared on the covers of fashion magazines, rather than women whose whole bodies– supermodels– appeared in photos. The former had to learn how to strut down the runway, however, and convince Versace to pay them big bucks. Appearances in the tabloids, rather than appearances in fashion shows, had previously been their major publicity vehicle. Donatella spared no expense in recruiting them, treating them to luxury travel and clothes. Versace’s competitors had to follow suit.
Read the book to learn how, by 2004, the company had become nearly bankrupt. There were a number of causes; the major one, however, was the aforementioned tragedy.