The Versace name is definitely part of the fashion lexicon if not the world’s. Founded by Gianni Versace, the company changed the landscape of fashion with the use of daring styles and materials and creating the previously unknown concept of the supermodel. Fashion became the world of the entourage and the rich and famous. After Gianni’s untimely death, his sister Donatella Versace took over, growing the company into a multi-billion dollar brand that it is a booming powerhouse.
Imagine you have the last name Versace. Before you even enter the room, there’s already an elephant munching on peanuts awaiting your arrival. It takes a strong personality to handle the limelight, gossip and life in the glare of that sizzling spotlight. Donatella thrives on this attention. She was made for it; her daughter Allegra Versace was not.
Allegra is the child of Donatella Versace and ex-fashion model Paul Beck, who are divorced. Although her name is Allegra Beck, because of her connection to the Versace empire, she’s referred to as Allegra Versace. While it might seem a blessing to wear the Versace name for all the power and influence it carries, Allegra sees it as a burden.
You might not have even known Donatella has a daughter (and a son Daniel), and that is just the way Allegra likes it. A quiet and academic girl, Allegra would prefer to fly under the radar. She went to the prestigious schools Sir James Henderson in Milan and Brown University in the United States. She also studied French, art history and theater at UCLA.
But with the last name Versace, dodging the paparazzi and keeping her life private hasn’t been entirely possible, especially since she became one of the richest people in the world when she inherited from Uncle Gianni a 50% stake in Gianni Versace S.p.A on her 18th birthday, making her a billionaire and giving her a seat on the board of directors. She couldn’t escape being Versace. The pressure of the press and the assumptions about her unsettled Allegra and made her very unhappy.
Though Allegra doesn’t like to discuss it, she admitted to a bout with bulimia, which she has now overcome. In an interview with La Repubblica, she called this period in her life one of absence and not being able to confront reality. All she wanted was to be no one, not recognized or hunted down.
Allegra always wanted to be seen as an individual, someone who made her own mark with her own achievements separate from the weight of the Versace name. She sought out jobs that enabled her to take a less conspicuous role, such as a scene dresser for a play, and earn her own money.
Recovered from her dark times, Allegra is now learning the family trade but in a more anonymous way, which suits her. She spends time in designers’ studios, and worked in one that wasn’t Italian where she organized the fashion shows, did some advertising and helped with some creative aspects.
In the publication La Repubblica, she told Natalia Aspesi that “the great part about this work is that I am no one! They pay me, also, of course, for now not enough to live without worries, but I think you can get used to everything, if you feel free, if you are yourself and not what others want you to be, if you don’t see a photographer around every corner, if you do not bury yourself in cruel gossip that does so much harm.”
At the behest of her mother Donatella, Allegra is getting more involved in the family business. She purportedly has a great designer’s eye — and why wouldn’t she? She just needs the freedom and space to develop her own talent separate from the fashion giftedness and grand personalities of her mother and uncle. She will definitely prevail and it will be interesting to see what mark she puts on the Versace marque.
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