After her brother Gianni was killed in 1997, she took over the family business and built it into a global brand, with a new menswear line out this month. Donatella Versace will now take your questions
What characteristic of the Versace brand have you kept alive to immortalize your brother? Armando Rodriguez Davila, Mexico City
Glamour. When Gianni started, fashion was about being safe, being sophisticated. The word glamour didn't exist. Gianni invented glamour. It meant women not being afraid to embrace femininity and sensuality. I make sure glamour stays.
How is your vision of the Versace label different from Gianni's? Ashika Vaswani, Sydney
I always, always think of Gianniif Gianni would approve of what I'm doing. Every fashion show, before the girls or the boys go on the runway, I close my eyes and think of him. Will Gianni approve of this? I tell myself, Yes, he will. He taught me everything I know. Even if my fashion changes, evolves with the millennium, the DNA is the same.
What are your feelings on using film stars instead of supermodels to represent fashion? Alexander Dreussi, Canton, Ohio
A celebrity can convey a message much quicker and much more clearly than a model. For example, for my menswear line, I'm working with [Grey's Anatomy star] Patrick Dempsey at the moment. The enthusiasm from people is very serious. They look at the campaign with Dempsey as enormous because he represents the kind of man that every woman wants next to her and every man can recognize himself in.
Recently Hillary Clinton refused to be in Vogue magazine, fearing she would appear too feminine. What do you think that says about women's roles in society? Emily Nielsen, Poway, Calif.
Showing your femininity should help your career and not go against your career. Dressing like a man, using the suit to look powerfulthat was the '80s, and that didn't help women. Helping women is [using] your brain and not the way you dress.
Would you consider partnering with mass-market brands like H&M? Grace Lien, Hong Kong
I don't think so. Versace is positioned in the luxury-brand market, and only in that way can you be established forever as a luxury brand.
Do you think the fashion industry should make clothes for plus-sized women? Tara McCullough, Glendale, Ariz.
Plus-sized women shouldn't think of themselves as a size. They should think of themselves as women with rich goals in life. Size doesn't mean, really, anything. You can carry your size with pride and dress in a way that you like.
Has your company started feeling the effects of the weakening American dollar or the Japanese yen? Jeffrey Spivock, Montreal
No, because the luxury market at this moment doesn't feel the recession. Hopefully we will not. But we are very aware of what's going on in the world, and we're taking steps to avoid [being affected].
Italy aside, which country's or city's fashion sense do you most admire, and why? David John Landy, Dublin
I do admire England because they are eccentric. I admire America because they follow fashion.
Which other designers' fashions inspire you? Amanda Cusick, Piedmont, Calif.
I like a lot of young designers. I like Christopher Kanehe's a very young British designerand Nicolas Ghesquiére, the designer for Balenciaga.
What's the most influential thing in your life and work? Soyeun Yang, Superior, Colo.
Music. Being friends with musicians and knowing a lot about music have a great impact on my life and on my design. Music is about breaking rules and finding new beats and listening to new sounds.