The news may be slow in the U.S. this weekend but things are heating up in Milan. Bloomberg reports that Gianni Versace SpA's board
is meeting to discuss the fate of Chief Executive Officer Giancarlo di Risio. Seems that the CEO ran afoul of La Donatella in a battle over creative control. What's really interesting is that the fight is reportedly over several issues including the fact that he wanted to license a cheaper line designed by someone else.
Giancarlo di Risio first hit our radar in January this year when he said that Versace would not be marking down products in the economic downturn. But then in February Versace announced it was reviving its second line Versus.
The bridge line was originally created by Gianni Versace in 1989 as a project for his sister Donatella. Versace signed a deal with Italian company Gruppo Facchini to create clothing and accessories lines for men and women for the new line planned for Spring/Summer 2010. For his part, di Risio wasn't happy that Donatella Versace continues to use long-time Versace photographer Mario Testino for the brand's ad campaign. Testino gets a cool $140,000 a day.
Versace has thrived under di Risio who worked with Donatella to create a more elegant version of Versace that appeals to the luxury consumer. But in the end it's still a family brand (Donatella owns 20 percent, her brother Santo has 30 percent and her daughter Allegra inherited Gianni Versace's stake of 50 percent). Di Risio, a serial CEO of Italian clothing companies will likely have no trouble finding a new gig.
Who might replace di Risio? The Telegraph says that one possible option
is Kim Winser, who was behind the resurgence of Scottish brand Pringle and recently resigned from Aquascutum.
UPDATE: Versace has denied any friction
between Donatella and Giancarlo di Risio and released their new three-year plan.