MILAN — Versace is planning its first fashion show in China — and for a good cause.
The show, followed by an auction and a dinner, will be held next month in Beijing as part of a new charity fund-raiser supported by Donatella Versace. The Versace/One Charity Gala will benefit the Jet Li One Foundation. The Italian luxury goods house and the foundation have established a yearlong partnership to open children’s centers for post-trauma and psychological relief in China’s Sichuan province, which was hit by a devastating earthquake in May.
Donatella Versace will attend the gala on Nov. 13. The show, presenting Versace’s spring 2009 women’s and men’s collections, will be held in a newly developed luxury area, the Beijing Legation Quarter, located next to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. The quarter once housed the American Embassy to the Qing Empire, was later the Dalai Lama’s residence during the Fifties and even hosted secret meetings between Henry Kissinger and Premier Zhou Enlai in 1971.
Chinese-American developer Handel Lee, who also backed Shanghai’s successful Three on the Bund project, recently has taken over this area and is developing it with a mix of shops, art galleries and restaurants.
In November, the first Versace/One Foundation Children’s Centre will open in San Jiang, in the Sichuan area. Proceeds from the event will be donated entirely to the One Foundation charity to help open additional children’s centers in the territory.
Donatella Versace has designed a Versace/One Foundation logo that will be featured on a range of limited edition merchandise that the designer will introduce in her collections for one year. The items will be exclusively available at Versace boutiques in Mainland China, and the first pieces will go on sale the day after the charity event. There are 18 Versace boutiques in Mainland China, excluding Hong Kong. The first Versace boutique there opened in Shanghai in 2005.
Earlier this year, Versace chief executive officer Giancarlo Di Risio said the company plans to invest about 45 million euros, or almost $70 million, to open 11 stores in 2008, mainly in Asia, further tapping a market it hopes will replace the U.S. as its second largest in terms of sales after Europe.