NEW YORK — Since landing in New York late on Saturday, Donatella Versace’s schedule has been so jam-packed that she hasn’t had much time to sense any economic jitters.

This story first appeared in the October 23, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“I love New York, I love the energy,” she told WWD. “I have to admit that when I got here, I thought I was going to find the city more calm because of the economic crisis, but, as always, New Yorkers react well. They don’t give up. They are people who fight. I am very happy to see this.”

Stamina is something the designer can clearly relate to. On Sunday, she hung out with Elton John and David Furnish at the Waverly Inn. She hosted the Whitney Gala with co-hosts Liz Swig and Allison Kanders and special guest Patrick Dempsey on Monday, and on Tuesday was feted at Swig’s home, before sneaking off to check out Chanel’s Mobile Art and enjoy another dinner at the Waverly. “It’s my favorite restaurant at the moment,” Versace admitted. “The food is fantastic and the crowd is good too. I was having the tagliatelle with truffles. It was very good. Tagliatelle doesn’t need to be cooked like Italian pasta. It’s soft. I wouldn’t take pasta al dente in America. I wouldn’t dare.”

After a breather on Wednesday to check out art galleries and scope out potential collaborations with emerging artists, she will crown her trip tonight at the Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars, where she will pick up the top Superstar honor.

“It’s a great achievement,” Versace said, adding she was particularly drawn to the organization because of founding members like Helena Rubinstein, Elizabeth Arden and Eleanor Roosevelt. “The idea of these powerful women starting this award is amazing,” she said. “I really respect women, and I think women are very strong right now.”

Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Balthazar Getty and Prince will be among her special guests at the gala and the designer plans to coax Prince into doing a special performance for her over lunch today.

“I will say, ‘You better perform,’” she said. “I will want one song. I remember Prince used to have a club in Miami, where he was DJing but nobody knew. People were going crazy. He was fantastic. I hope he will perform. He performed after my show in Milan, and he was amazing. I saw Prince in concert 100 times, but every time it’s like the first time because he is so talented.”

She hopes the night won’t end at Cipriani Wall Street, the venue for the Night of Stars. “I would love to go dancing somewhere,” said the designer.

“In Europe, everybody is freaking out because the only news is the economy,” she said. “Here it’s the election.”

Speaking of which, the designer has plenty to say about the upcoming presidential election, and is more than happy to offer her endorsement of Barack Obama.

“I hope Obama wins, so he can save the world,” she said. “This is what we expect from him — not just to save America but the world. If he wins, the effect will be felt all over the world. I think he has something to say, which is interesting. On the contrary, the other party has nothing to say. And when they say something, it’s not interesting at all. It’s scary.”

Versace admitted she would love to dress Obama and his wife Michelle. “They have a lot of allure and glamour,” she said, noting that they are a far cry from the political scene in her native Italy. “There’s nobody in Italian politics like them,” she said. “It’s the same people, back and forth. It’s always [Romano] Prodi and [Silvio] Berlusconi, Berlusconi and Prodi.”

Politics aside, she is currently hooked on “Gossip Girl,” and since the show hasn’t yet been aired in Italy, she has the DVDs sent over to her. Versace could even envision doing a cameo on the show. “I love all the styling, all the clothes and how bitchy they are,” she said, adding with a mischievous smile, “You know, who likes a good girl anymore? We like the bad girls. They are fun.”

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