One source said Tisci has signed the contract that would see him join the Italian company and that a floor at Versace’s Milan headquarters has been cleared for him. The source said that at least one designer from his staff is already in place at the location.
But now other sources said the talks have hit a glitch and may have broken down altogether. It is understood that The Blackstone Group, which bought a 20 percent stake in the Versace company in 2014, pushed to finalize the deal. It is unclear whether Tisci has a non-compete agreement following his departure from Givenchy in January.
As it has over the past few months, the Versace company continued not to comment on rumors or speculation.
WWD broke the news on Jan. 19 that Versace was eyeing Tisci, who has long expressed his admiration for the work of the late Gianni Versace and cultivated a close friendship with his sister, Donatella, whom he invited to pose in a Givenchy ad campaign in 2015. Tisci’s exit from Givenchy further fueled the speculation. As reported, Versace held discussions with Tisci for months, according to sources.
In March, Tisci was in Rome for the celebration of his latest footwear collaboration with Nike, the NikeLab Air Max 97 Mid x RT. Back from a trip to Brazil, the designer told WWD he was enjoying a break, after 12 years of fast-paced work at Givenchy. He did not address the Versace rumors but said, “There are very interesting things on the table now and I’ll make a decision before summer. But now, after having been to Morocco and Brazil, I still have to do a couple of spiritual things before the summer. I really wanted to take a break because I needed to go back to reality….I needed to have the time to do things, which were impossible for me to do while working….I wanted to spend more time with my mum, who is 88, to spend time with my nephews….I need to go back to real life.”
Speaking about the future from Blackstone’s point of view, a source said the New York-based group could be looking for an exit over the next 36 months given most private investor’s three-to-five year time frame and that selling to another private equity fund is unlikely. As a result, an IPO remains the most logical solution, unless a fashion or industrial group makes a move to buy all of Versace.
Multiple sources concurred that the Versace family is deeply committed to the company, has great ambitions for it and feels the responsibility to grow it in the wake of Gianni Versace’s murder in 1997. His niece Allegra Versace Beck inherited 50 percent of the company, and his sister and his brother Santo have a 20 and 30 percent stake, respectively.