Donatella Versace

An Appreciation of Donatella Versace's Iconic Quotes

Today, on her 64th birthday, it's hard to imagine that Donatella Versace wasn't always one of the fashion industry's most beloved icons. But in the years after her brother Gianni Versace's death in 1997, when she took over his role at the helm of Versace, the response was lukewarm, to say the least; for a long time, she was barely even considered a designer, and instead dismissed as her late brother's "muse."

These days, of course, it's a different story. Donatella has officially stepped out of Gianni's shadow, and both she and the house are as successful and respected as ever. (It's hard to imagine that supermodels like Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, and Carla Bruni would have so enthusiastically reunited on the runway for anyone else.) The industry has come to embrace her ultra-blonde, ultra-tan, and ultra-sassy persona with open arms—as has Donatella herself, who's expanded the reach of her outsized Donatella-ness via platforms like a deliciously ostentatious Instagram account and a book that read like a love letter to herself.

Thanks to her self-awareness, all that has conspired to somehow make Donatella even more delightful. As happy as she is to joke about her absurd attachment to heels, she's equally open to discussing how the image that's turned her into an icon was her way to protect herself from public scrutiny in the throes of her cocaine addiction, and in the wake of her brother's death. As much as she's been through, she's never forgotten to have fun being Donatella. In celebration, let's revisit some of her most memorable quips and quotes.

On flats: "I never, ever wear flats. Every time I wear them I fall over! The only flats I own are my sneakers, which I only wear when inside the gym and always with black and diamonds." —in i-D

On what she was like as a little girl: "I was never a little girl. My brother Gianni would dress me and I would go out with a ciré jacket, a patent leather miniskirt, and tall boots." —in W

On her menswear designs: "I am surrounded by impossibly sexy men. Sorry! That’s my reality! How can you think about not making them sexy?" —in the Independent

On the youth: "Many of the young people I speak to now are obsessed with me and I don’t know why! I like to talk to young people and see students at school. They look at me and go, 'Wahhh, Donatella!'" – GQ

On her height: "I am 5'2"—me and Bruno Mars, the same—so I wear high heels all the time, to be tall." —in the Guardian

On comfort: "What is comfortable fashion? To be comfortable, that can’t be in the vocabulary of fashion. If you want to be comfortable, stay home in your pajamas." —in Interview

On men: "Why do women need men nowadays? Certainly not to prove strength, determination and independence anymore. Men are needed only for love affairs and for physical relaxation." —in SSENSE

On what would happen to Versace if she suddenly died: "Ninety percent of the employees will applaud loudly." —in SSENSE

On nature: "I love the sea. I love the ocean. I mean, I was born in the south of Italy. But I get bored. After one week I’m so bored I want to kill myself. I start looking at trees and nature... It’s all so orgaaan-eecc. [Laughs.] I need some chemicals, you know? I’ll bleach my hair. I’ll feel so much better." —in GQ

On selfies: "The selfie thing kills me. I hate selfies, but young people really like them, so I’m like, ‘OK, let’s do a selfie.’ I find it incredible when I go to rock concerts. I went to one recently and all these young people were screaming, 'Donatella! Donatella!' I was like, 'Let’s leave.'" —in GQ

On what she would be doing if she weren't a designer: "I would like to be a rock star, if I had talent. But I don’t." —in W

On her 1995 men's show, where Robbie Williams and Tupac performed: "Liam Gallagher was in the audience. He got up and started to walk with the models and I was like, 'Sit down!'" —in GQ

On Marilyn Monroe: "She was sexy, she was brave, she wore makeup. Love her." —in Interview

On her interior decorating choices, like faux Louis XIV fauteuils: "I can’t sit in a super-modern chair. I like the rich." —in the Independent

On the blimp of Donald Trump that flew over Parliament during his state visit: “I love the big baby blimp. It’s genius. We should do all our windows with the baby Trump when he comes to Italy. In diapers!" —in GQ

On the first thing she does in the morning: "I wake up and check all my devices. Cling cling! Email. Italian phone. American phone. iPad. I leave everything on at night. Cling! I want to know what is happening." —in W

On her style: "My style is not that big. I wear heels, tight pants, and I wear diamonds." —at the 2013 Vogue Festival

On American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace: "I don’t discuss fiction." —in SSENSE

On her grades: "Mine were very good—even though my mother would often keep me from going to school. In the mornings when I came down to the kitchen with Cleopatra eyes, she would shout: 'You are not leaving the house like that! Either wash off the make-up, or you stay home!' I was obstinate and locked myself in my room." —in SSENSE

On health: "I stopped working with a personal trainer as he wouldn't let me smoke." —at the 2013 Vogue Festival

On her son Daniel's choice not to use the name "Versace": "He believes the name Versace would damage his integrity as a musician and give him an undeserved advantage. I don’t really understand that reasoning, because you’re either a good musician or a bad one. But it’s his life." —in SSENSE

On being blonde: "To be blonde means to be caressed by the sun, and to be your own sun: strong, full of energy, bright, warming." —in SSENSE

On her image: "I’m not beautiful, but I have a look: blond hair, high heels, lots of makeup." —in the Guardian

On her go-to survival technique: "Blond is a way of life. You face the world like an Amazon. I survived the catastrophes in my life because of the strength that my blonde hair gives me." —in SSENSE

On money: "When I'm shopping I don't even look at the price, I'm ashamed of myself, I just sign the credit card." —in i-D

On Versace's customers:"The [couture] clothes I did in Paris are not for a grande dame de Paris. She can’t wear it. I don’t want her to wear it, basically." —in the Independent

On her appearance: "I'm not like this genetically. I use tons of cream and take care of my hair and skin." —at the 2013 Vogue Festival

On Elton John's offer to escort her to a rehab facility in 2004: "I had no idea what a rehab clinic was like, and I wasn’t exactly sure where Arizona was, either." —in SSENSE

On whether or not she wore flats with her jogging suit on the plane to rehab: "No! No way!" —in SSENSE

On whether or not she thinks she's an icon, in 2008: "I don't think I'm an icon, when I think of icons I think of dead people, and I can assure you, I'm not dead." —in i-D

On whether or not she thinks she's an icon, in 2017: "Yes. [Laughs.] Okay, should I be shy? No. This is not because I’m full of myself, but I think, in fashion history, I did a lot. I mean an icon in fashion, not an icon in general, in the world." —in the Guardian

On how she would dress for a meeting with god: "I would wear high heels. I’m sure god hasn’t seen them." —in SSENSE

Related: Donatella Versace’s Instagram Is Uniquely, Deliciously Ostentatious