It was just not meant to be — but boy, did it make for industry fodder.
After rumors circulated for more than a year, the much-hyped and widely expected arrival of Riccardo Tisci at Versace never materialized. The elements for a potential match were there: Donatella Versace and Tisci’s long-standing friendship, which culminated with her appearing in Givenchy’s fall 2015 campaign; Tisci’s lifelong admiration for Gianni Versace’s legacy, and Donatella Versace’s inclination to champion young designers — see Anthony Vaccarello and Christopher Kane tapped to forge a new path for Versus. Tisci’s exit from Givenchy in February, after 12 years as the brand’s artistic director, immediately added fuel to the speculation.
The Versace house argued throughout that Donatella Versace was the creative director of the company and that there were no plans to change that, without ever addressing whether talks were being held with Tisci. He seemed a natural for the fashion house, given his penchant for bold prints, demonstrative hardware and tough chic. Industry sources believed Tisci, who had rejuvenated Givenchy’s image and with his social media reach and appeal was perceived as an additional element of coolness, could have helped boost business ahead of Versace’s potential initial public offering, which is now understood to be on hold.
In June, after a few weeks of silence, attributed to Tisci’s non-compete agreement with LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton and lengthy negotiations over control and strategies, sources said the talks between the designer and Versace had broken down.
Shortly afterward, The Blackstone Group, which bought a 20 percent stake in Versace in 2014, spoke about the issue for the first time, maintaining that it did not want to replace Donatella Versace at the company’s creative helm, despite never disputing the earlier reports.
Still, could 2018 bring a new designer to the storied Italian house?
Sources told WWD in September that Versace was eyeing Kim Jones, currently men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton, although his contractual obligations are allegedly slowing the talks.
Following her strong and emotional spring show, asked to discuss the topic, Versace told WWD: “Who should be coming now? I’m losing count. Listen, there is no scandal here. I’m open, if I want someone in-house to bring Versace with me into 2050, let’s say, I will do it, if I think it’s the right person, if it works. The designer alone is not relevant. What is relevant is the team, those around the designer. People were saying I was retiring. No. And there is nobody [joining] now, but this does not mean that if I see someone, I won’t take them in. I’m always looking around. I took [designers] in for Versus. What is the difference if I want them for the signature line?”