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Totes with a Cause: Versace Launches Art Unites

Renata Espinosa
July 03rd, 2009 @ 1:31 PM - New York

Just when you thought the world didn't need another tote bag, along comes Donatella Versace with a version that will be hard for anyone with a heart to resist. It's one new bag purchase that comes guilt-free.

As part of the new global initiative Art Unites, a collaboration between Versace and the Whitney Museum of American Art's education department, Versace donated canvases and art supplies to nearly 500 children in the U.S. and 900 children in China through two charities, the Starlight Children's Foundation and the Red Cross Society of China Jet Li One Foundation, respectively.

Based on a theme of friendship, the artwork created by the children will be printed on one-of-a-kind Versace tote bags to be sold worldwide starting in October, through Versace boutiques and online with the Gilt Groupe. Retailing between $200 and $250, 100% of the proceeds will be given to the two charities.

Both charities utilize art therapy; in the case of Starlight, to raise the spirits of seriously ill children and their families, and with One Foundation, for the psychological recovery of children affected by the earthquakes last year in the Sichuan province.

"When I visited the first children’s center we helped open last year at San Jiang, in the Sichuan province of China, I spent time watching the children drawing and helping them with their work," said Versace. "It was really fun, and I could see how art has helped these kids in their recovery from the trauma of the terrible earthquake that struck the province in 2007."

Come September for Versace's Spring 2010 show, one winning bag from each charity will be featured on the runway. Selecting the bags will be Versace, Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney's Alice Pratt Brown Director, Glenda Bailey, Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s Bazaar, Penelope Cruz, who will co-chair the Whitney's annual gala with Versace in October and One Foundation's Jet Li.

Though Versace said the upcoming spring collection doesn't necessarily have a specific children-oriented theme itself ("But who knows? I am still working on it," she said), she said that the incorporation of art into her work, both as a designer and through these charities, "is in line with my recent policy of asking artists to create unique work for my collections, artists like Tim Roelofs and Julie Verhoeven," said Versace. "To my mind every child is an artist."

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* Versace Returns to Black in First Half 2006


* Versus Hires Jonathan Anderson

* Cacharel Unveils New CEO, in Major Corporate Revamp


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