The Perfect Secretary
News that Madonna‘s role- playing has extended to embrace the sexy secretary should come as no surprise – we’ve all seen her effortlessly transform from virgin bride to siren, and from respectable wife to bespectacled mother. This latest incarnation is, on paper, rather more demure – and even passive – than most, however. Still, good old Madge is stepping in to the breach – or did she do it for the money? – in an attempt to reverse the fortunes of her old muckerina Donatella Versace, who hasn’t had the easiest of times recently, both personally and professionally.
It’s no secret that the house that Gianni Versace founded has struggled with the best of them over the past few years. Donatella Versace no longer shows at the biannual Parisian haute-couture, the jewel in fashion’s crown, in a bid to redirect funds elsewhere. Similarly, the Versace monopoly on front-row celebrities and guest supermodel appearances is no longer – it was only a matter of time before the whippersnapper likes of Dolce&Gabbana would cotton on to this particular formula. Even the unashamedly flashy aesthetic for which Versace has always been famous has been exploited by more than a few other designers, Roberto Cavalli, to name just one.
It is heart-warming to note, then, that help is at hand. The March issues of the international fashion glossies will see the aforementioned World’s Most Famous Woman starring in a Versace advertising campaign photographed by none other than Mario Testino, Madonna’s and Donatella’s old muckerino, neatly enough – the photographer shot Madonna for another Versace campaign 10 years ago now.
And it is a resounding return to high-camp, high-octane form. Here is the pop icon poised for dictation, pen and paper in hand. There she is chatting on the phone. The distinct impression is that there’s no need for her to file her nails while she does so. Methinks this particular nine-to-fiver would have someone else to do that for her.
Because, Madonna being Madonna, the impression is not of a secretary as you or I might know one. Only very few of that profession are likely to write notes lying back on a pristine white day- bed, or lick envelopes lasciviously, kneeling, legs apart, on the equally white carpeted floor. That sort of behaviour is the preserve of a rather different profession, I think you?ll find. Equally, not many women have so many fabulous handbags – one for every day of the week – just for carrying to the office.
And then there are the clothes: a draped jersey dress split almost to the crotch and gathered at the waist with a gold Medusa buckle; a signature loud and proud Versace shirt worn with skin-tight blue jeans or cream tailored trousers and, of course, the highest metallic strappy sandals. These are not feet that have ever touched the ground. Public transport is anathema to them.
In the world according to Donatella Versace, however, Madonna is doubtless wholly convincing. This is not surprising given that the designer herself can sometimes be seen with her hairdresser in tow, brushing those trademark platinum tresses as she walks. With this in mind, one can well imagine the two of them dreaming the whole thing up in a close woman-to-woman kind of a way, Madonna choking on the endless stream of Marlboro reds on which La Versace famously puffs away. The lady doesn’t do Lights.
Whichever way you choose to look at it, their view of reality is hardly in line with that of the rest of us.
In the spring of 1998, just months after her brother died, I interviewed Donatella Versace in Gianni Versace’s former home, a town house on the Upper Westside of Manhattan. On arrival I was let in by the butler and left to ponder for a while the wall-to-wall black marble, wall-to-wall Picassos, and the fountain just beyond a first set of French windows, in which rose petals had been lovingly scattered, as they would continue to be until the lady of the house departed for Milan. Ms Versace would be with me in just a moment, I was told. She was downstairs in the kitchen swapping recipes with a member of staff, as you do.
When she appeared – dressed in black jeans and T-shirt, and wearing diamond rings so huge that she couldn’t bend her fingers – she was insistent that the main difference between herself and Gianni Versace was that she was a woman and therefore had an empathetic, even sisterly approach to clothing. She was, she insisted, very much the pragmatist. “I would like all women to be able to wear my clothes,” this woman of the people claimed. And to Donatella Versace, Madonna might indeed serve as some kind of Everywoman.
“She relates to women of all ages,” Versace said last week of her latest leading lady. Whatever she may be, however, Madonna is no secretary.
“Take a letter, Miss Ciccone. And take off those PVC handcuffs.”
Article by Susannah Frankel
Source: New Zeland Herald