Donatella Versace Gets Recognition From Italy’s President

Donatella Versace was presented the title of Grand Ufficiale dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana in Milan on Friday.

One of the country’s highest honors, the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic is bestowed by Italy’s president upon people who have excelled in the fields of literature, the arts, the economy, public service, or social, philanthropic and humanitarian activities. In the case of Versace, it recognized her contribution to Italian fashion and culture as well as her humanitarian work.

Established in 1951 by the second president of the Italian Republic, Luigi Einaudi, the investitures take place twice a year, traditionally to coincide with the anniversary of the foundation of the republic and of the promulgation of the Italian constitution. Versace will meet Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella at the Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome on Saturday as part of the country’s annual celebrations.

On Friday, 25 other people were presented the Knighthood of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic title. They included Pietro Beccari, chairman and chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton; fashion designer Chiara Boni; Giovanni Sgariboldi, chairman of cosmetic company Euroitalia; Matteo Lunelli, chairman of Altagamma and Cantine Ferrari, as well as Marina Berlusconi, the eldest daughter of Italy’s former prime minister and media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi and president of the family holding company Fininvest and publisher Mondadori for more than two decades.

“I am hugely honored to be receiving this award from the president of Italy. It is a recognition not just for me but for the company we founded over four decades ago, for my fantastic team and for the global Versace community who champion ‘Made in Italy’ every single day,” Versace said. “On the eve of Pride Month, this award also recognizes the very urgent need to champion minority voices, freedom of expression and inclusivity, both here in Italy and globally. Tolerance, understanding and unconditional love has never been more important in our world.”

To be sure, at the private ceremony in Milan, the designer was accompanied by her family and friends, including Alessandro Zan, whose “DDL Zan” bill against homotransphobia Versace has repeatedly supported in the past, as reported.

Overall, the designer has long voiced her support for LGBTQIA+ equality. For previous iterations during Pride Month, Versace has launched dedicated capsule collections, with sales benefiting charities that are active in shaping a more inclusive, equal world. For instance, in 2020 the Versace x Pride collection benefited Pride Live in the U.S. and Arcigay in Europe, while 10 percent of the sales of this year’s Pride capsule will aid the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Versace also is co-chair of The Rocket Fund, the campaign to raise $125 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation to help with its mission to end AIDS by 2030.

In 2019, the Pride Live organization appointed the designer as Stonewall ambassador. At the time, Versace made an appearance alongside Lady Gaga in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the uprising at the Stonewall Inn, which paved the way for gay rights.

Versace is global ambassador of the LGBT Center in Los Angeles and supporter of Checkpoint, one of the only independent sexual health clinics for the LGBTQIA+ community operating in Milan.

She has won multiple global awards, including the CNMI Humanitarian Award for Equity and Inclusivity last year and The Changemaker Award at The Green Carpet Fashion Awards in Los Angeles earlier this year.

In her speech after receiving the former recognition, Versace recalled that when she was 11, her brother Gianni told her he was gay. “For me, this changed nothing. I loved him and I did not care who he loved. His love and encouragement made me who I am,” she said at the time, adding that she fights “for freedom, equity and inclusivity every day.”

Versace was beside her brother’s side ever since the company was founded in 1978. She supervised the legendary campaigns by photographers such as Richard Avedon, Herb Ritts and Helmut Newton, contributing to the supermodel phenomenon of the early ’90s. In 1994 she became head designer of Versus, and three years later she stepped in as artistic director of Versace following the murder of her brother.

SOURCE: Women’s Wear Daily

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