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Cannes Film Festival’s red carpet provides a unique window for Atelier Versace’s comeback

by Chiara Beghelli

On the red carpet of the Cannes Film Festival, just like for the Oscars and Golden Globe awards -- among the most-followed global media events -- more and more stars have chosen to wear the gowns of the newest star of Italian haute couture universe, namely Atelier Versace.

The youngest of Italian couture collection brands (Giorgio Armani launched his Privé couture collection in January of 2005, Valentino began to design his eponymous dresses in the Sixties), was created by Gianni Versace in 1989. After the death of the designer in 1997, the Atelier collection, along with the entire company, passed through a dark period. The collection was suspended in 2008.

Four years later, in January 2012, Donatella Versace, creative director of the company founded by her brother, came roaring back with a revamped Atelier collection during Haute Couture week in Paris, with a few -- but very impressive -- creations. Three years later, Atelier Versace’s show is now one of the most waited for in Paris.

Couture collections are made of very few pieces compared to ready-to-wear ones. But they are far more precious, since every gown needs hundreds of hours to be stitched by “les petites mains,” literally “the little hands,” of the seamstresses in the ateliers.

A couture dress can cost up to dozens of thousands in dollars or euros, and it’s made only by order. And global events such as the film festivals, watched by millions of people worldwide, are a unique window for fashion brands to show these precious creations: so, if a celebrity wears one specific brand is not only a matter of personal taste, but also of business.

“The Atelier Versace collection has given us a strong return in terms of reputation,” said Gian Giacomo Ferraris, Versace CEO since 2009, to Il Sole 24 Ore-Italy24. Ferraris has driven the relaunch of the company, together with Donatella Versace. And the same year Atelier Versace revived was also the best for the company for a long time: in 2012, indeed, Versace revenues were up 20%, to €410 million.

These numbers attracted the interest of Blackstone Group private equity firm, that in November 2014 bought the 20% stakes of Versace for €210 million. In 2014 the business went even better: revenues reached €548.7 million, up 16.9% on 2013.

If in 2010, in its roughest times, Versace had to cut its employees to 980 from 1,350 of the year before, in 2015 the number rose to about 2,000. EBITDA in 2014 was up 9.8% at €67.6 million, and net profits were up 27% to €26.3 million. Sales were good worldwide: the US market has grown by 28.8%, Asia by 15.7% and Europe performance also registered an increase of 13.7%.

Next summer, the Palazzo Versace Hotel & Resort in Dubai is schedule to open.