Gina Gershon had big stilettos to fill to play fashion designer Donatella Versace in Lifetime’s biopic House of Versace. Luckily, the actress had costume designer Claire Nadon to help her create the look of the fashion icon.
“It was one of the best productions I’ve worked on in my life,” says Nadon. “It’s so rare that you have an occasion to do a film about clothing and garments and fashion. Usually, it’s such a complimentary aspect of the film, but fashion was the core [of this movie].” Still, the process wasn’t an easy one. With just three weeks of prep time, Nadon worked with two assistants, three tailors, and four on-set associates to quickly pull together the colorful wardrobe, which consisted of both custom-made items and authentic vintage Versace pieces.
The Italian luxury label was not involved with the production — which follows Donatella Versace’s struggle to keep her murdered brother Gianni’s fashion empire afloat while battling drug addiction — but Nadon insists, “It does show the spirit of the fashion house and the period. I would love it if [the family and company] would think that [the fashion] could be authentic, but I don’t mistake myself. I know we didn’t have the time or the budget or the actual real fabric that they had. But if people have the feeling of, ‘I know that period and it does portray that,’ I would be very pleased.”
Click through the gallery to see what Nadon says about actress Gina Gershon’s dramatic transformation, the best place to find vintage Versace pieces, and which actress wore her own personal wardrobe on-screen.
“Donatella always tries to be flamboyant, sexy, to maximize her femininity… She wears a corset under everything, even T-shirts,” says Nadon, who watched as the actress lost weight during filming because the restrictive garments made eating almost impossible. “[Gina would] say, ‘Tighter at the waist.’ She always wanted the corsets tighter and tighter…. Because she was wearing corsets every day, it didn’t [leave] any room for big meals.” Nadon’s team scoured consignment stores like The Way We Wore and Timeless Vixens to track down authentic vintage sunglasses and handbags from the fashion brand.