On the heels of the out-of-character sneakers it unveiled Friday night at the Versace SS19 show during Milan Fashion Week, the upscale brand is “within hours” of announcing that it has been sold, according to a report this morning in a leading Italian newspaper. Although Tiffany & Co, and others have been mentioned as possible buyers, most of the speculation revolves around Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. acquiring the company.
Citing unnamed sources, Corriere della Sera says, “Donatella Versace, sister of late founder Gianni who doubles as artistic director and vice-president of the Milan-based group, has called a staff meeting for Tuesday, the day the official announcement could be made,” report Reuters’ Agnieszka Flak and Giulia Segreti.
Versace has thus far had no comment on the report.
“Versace has been considering a listing, after U.S. private equity group Blackstone bought a 20% stake in 2014 to fund overseas expansion, although chief executive Jonathan Akeroyd told Reuters earlier this year there was no rush for a market debut,” Flak and Segreti continue.
The remaining shares are owned by siblings Donatella and Santo Versace and Donatella’s daughter, Allegra Versace Beck.
“Multiple sources have over the years concurred that the Versace family is deeply committed to the company, has great ambitions for it and feels the responsibility to grow it in the wake of Gianni Versace’s murder in 1997. His niece Allegra Versace Beck inherited 50% of the company, and his sister and his brother Santo have a 20% and 30% stake, respectively,” writes Luisa Zargani for Women’s Wear Daily.
London-based Kors “may announce a deal as early as this week that values Versace at about $2 billion,” sources tellBloomberg’s Tommaso Ebhardt. “The Versace family will continue to have a role in the company under any agreement, they said. While talks are advanced, no final agreements have been reached, the people said,” Ebhardt writes.
“Kors last year snapped up shoemaker Jimmy Choo Plc for about 896 million pounds ($1.2 billion), expanding beyond its namesake brand. Now, it’s vying with Coach owner Tapestry Inc. to build a U.S.-based multibrand fashion empire along the lines of Paris-based conglomerates LVMH and Kering SA,” Ebhardt continues.
“The deal would come after Versace, one of the last independent fashion houses, put the brakes on an initial public offering because market conditions were not deemed suitable, according to a person briefed on the decision,” write Javier Espinoza and Rachel Sanderson for Financial Times.
“It would be the latest independent European runway brand to decide to sell in recent months. Italy’s Missoni family announced an agreement to sell a minority stake of its eponymous brand to a private equity venture backed by the Italian state before the summer, and Antwerp-based Dries Van Noten sold a majority stake to Spanish luxury group Puig in June,” they continue.
“Another potential buyer whose name was floating around Milan Fashion Week was jeweler Tiffany & Co., which is headed up by an Italian CEO who has been trying to shake things up,” reports Grace Dobush for Fortune.
Meanwhile, Versace is receiving warm reviews for its spring/summer line that hit the runway three days ago.
“The retro references were suitably mashed for the Insta-generation,” writes Ellie Pithers for Vogue. “Sixties vinyl jackets, Seventies hippie florals, Eighties neon bright party dresses, Nineties chunky trainers -- this was a time-hopping collection that refused to alight on a decade. Why settle when you can have everything?”
The Telegraph’s Lisa Armstrong leads with the sneakers.
“It was the trainers that got me. Versace doesn’t do trainers. It does heels so high you practically require a lift to mount their summit. A stiletto is as much a part of the Versace woman’s go-to look as her swishy, flicky hair and her perma-tan,” she writes.
“But when the techtonic plates of fashion grind into action, they do so decisively. Trainers are now the prevailing footwear for just about everyone, even the ladies who teeter. If the key to commercial success in fashion for the past 20 years was minting an It Bag, now it’s coming up with a distinctive, eye-punching pair of trainers.”
Armstrong concludes that “Donatella Versace is on a renewed mission to keep Versace evolving. … This show was a strong step towards that.”
The impending announcement, if and when it happens, will be another.