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Donatella: I Handled Versace While Under Influence of Cocaine, Will Weather Economy, Too

>> Versace is definitely feeling the economic crunch, completely pulling out of Japan, where it's had a presence since 1981, and announcing impending layoffs of over a quarter of its current workforce.  But Donatella Versace aims to keep up appearances — she sponsored the Whitney Museum Art Gala in New York two weeks ago, jetted off days later to Rio de Janeiro for a Fashion Rocks event, and has just named Georgia May Jagger, Jerry Hall and Mick Jagger's 17-year-old daughter, the face of her Spring 2010 campaign, as photographed by Mario Testino. She also refuses to take off her stilettos, except for at the gym.

The New York Times's Eric Wilson caught up with her when she was in New York, staying under the name "Mrs. Montez" in a suite at the Waldorf Towers.  When she first took over Versace, she says, “it was not easy to believe in myself or the future. Everyone was looking at me like a savior, and I had to have this image of this powerful strong woman, which I am not.”

"You have to face the truth" »

But she is also unfazed by the current state of the brand — she mentions that before she went to rehab for her cocaine addiction in 2004, when she was so dependent, Wilson notes, "that fashion insiders alert to this open secret speculated on whether she would ever leave the bathroom to make an appearance at one of her own dinner parties," she still managed to produce eight collections a year. “If my problem was as big as everyone says, how did I run this company and create all these collections?”

"You have to face the truth,” Versace says now of her company's state. “For me, life is about chapters. Die and born again, die and born again. It’s the story of my life.”

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