MILAN — So much for fashion rivalry: Santo Versace, chairman of the family-owned Versace company and member of the Italian Parliament with Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party, on Monday sent a letter to the president of the Italian republic, Giorgio Napolitano, asking him to consider appointing Giorgio Armani as a senator for life.
“There is nobody that deserves it more or who better represents our country,” Versace told WWD, pointing to Armani’s “earnestness, creativity and excellence.”
This story first appeared in the October 15, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
As per the Senate’s Web site, a senator for life illustrates “the country for outstanding merits in the social, scientific, artistic and literary” fields. Famed Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini, Fiat tycoon Gianni Agnelli, Nobel prize winner Rita Levi-Montalcini and automobile designer Sergio Pininfarina are listed among some of the country’s past notable senators.
There are 315 elected senators in Parliament, while senators for life can only be five at a time, excluding former presidents who effectively become senators for life once their mandate is over. There are four senators for life still alive. With one post vacant, and during his tenure, President Napolitano has not yet appointed a senator for life.
According to Versace, Armani embodies “the beauty of Italy, the country the way we would like to see it represented around the world, and where meritocracy is fully applied.” The entrepreneur admitted the request somewhat “honors” his brother Gianni Versace, too, and Italy’s fashion system he helped build with Armani. As for his sister, Donatella, “she said it was a brilliant idea, fantastic and that I should do everything I can to promote it,” Versace concluded. Armani was not available for comment at press time.
On a different front but also close to Versace’s heart, the entrepreneur is supporting a new fashion project called Cangiari, presented during Milan Fashion Week last month. The eco-friendly label is produced by hand in Italy’s Calabria region, from which the Versaces hail. Behind the brand is a team of designers and the Goel social consortium, which offers jobs to disadvantaged people and is focused on fighting the criminal organization ’Ndrangheta, Calabria’s equivalent of the Sicilian Mafia. The label is produced in collaboration with Carlo Rivetti, president of Sportswear Company, and supported by the Italian Chamber of Fashion.