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Every Thursday, we dig up a favorite piece from the archives and bring it back to life. Today, we're highlighting an interview between Nicki Minaj and Donatella Versace that appeared in Interview Magazine in December 2011. If you haven't read it, consider this a blessing.
Versace has long been one of the most celebrated high-end designer brands in hip-hop, with co-signs tracing back to the '90s. While it's perhaps an unfair statement to say the Italian fashion house "fell off," it has definitely come back in a big way since 2011. Drake and Rick Ross had a hand in reviving the gaudy silk shirts. Nicki Minaj became the Versace-wearing-Lil Kim of our time (no comment about their rap similarities and/or differences, though). Given the latter, it was fitting that Interview Magazine paired Nicki with Donatella Versace for another of the mag's sit-downs.
What ensued was a conversation only Donatella and Nicki could have. Donatella told Nicki she liked "Super Bass" but that her favorite track was "I'm the Best." The designer, and one-time muse for Versace, also told the rapper that she loves hip-hop. Then: a conversation about the Notorious B.I.G. There's also some talk about Versace collections, inspirations, and Gianni Versace's murder.
Donatella says it's a compliment when other designers, like Riccardo Tisci, say they're influenced by Versace.
Nicki Minaj: How do you feel when you see things similar to what you’ve already done turning up at other houses? Do you feel like it is a compliment? Or would you rather just be in your own lane and everyone else do their own thing?
Donatella Versace: This is a compliment, especially when a designer like Riccardo Tisci, who I like very much, says Versace is an influence. When they do something once, it’s a compliment. But then there are other designers where . . . In a word, often,it’s not a compliment. [laughs] It’s hard to see certain things repeated. I think you would say the same about your music.
NM: Absolutely. But then, on the flip side, they say imitation is the best form of flattery.
DV: Which is why I don’t get upset at all.
Donatella believes Biggie was one of the reasons people became familiar with Versace.
NM: It’s interesting because yesterday I was in a car driving and a Biggie Smalls song came on the radio, and I remember that he used to shout-out Versace in a lot of his songs. Obviously, Biggie is no longer with us, but he was one of the reasons why the hip-hop world got so interested in Versace. Obviously, we couldn’t really afford Versace at that time, but what do you think about Biggie being so into Versace? I think he even wore Versace in a lot of his videos.
DV: I think Biggie was amazing. He came to my shows in Paris many times, and we’d see each other often. He always used to talk so nicely about my family. I think he was so smart, so intelligent. He had such a mind. So I loved what he was doing and how he was giving people a way to know about Versace—I do think a lot of people started to know about Versace because of him.
Donatella admits that she was devastated after her Gianni's death, but that she knew she had to keep the brand going.
NM: You and Gianni were obviously very close. After you lost him, was there ever a time when you thought you wouldn’t continue with Versace, or felt like you couldn’t do it because you were too drained emotionally? Did you always feel like you’d have to do even more or work even harder in order to honor your brother’s memory in a way that would make him proud?
DV: After we lost Gianni, I was emotionally drained . . .Destroyed, really. But I couldn’t show my pain in public because if I crashed, then everyone around me would crash. So I had to be strong for my children, for the company, for the people working with Gianni and me. I also wanted to pay homage to Gianni and say, “Listen, he taught me everything, so I think I should at least try to keep it going.” I’m such a lucky person to have been able to even walk next to my brother. He taught me to dare. He taught me to not be afraid. He taught me the importance of showing one’s sensuality. He taught me to never hide from yourself. This is what was working for him, so I felt like I had to try.
Click here for the full interview.
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