Madonna’s costume designers: inspiring friendship stories

Madonna experimented with her style A LOT over the years. From punk to sports, to underground, to Americana, to men’s suits, to retro and very provocative sets. She did change her style quite a bit, but she did not change her friends. We recall five stories of her friendships with costume designers.


Madonna, Gianni and Donatella Versace

“The last time I saw him was in the spring in Miami. Donatella had invited me over for a pre-Easter dinner. I went to Casa Casuarina with a few friends and found Gianni in great spirits. He was mesmerized by the blue nail polish on my daughter’s toenails. After dinner his niece Allegra sat at our feet and played with Lourdes while he talked about la dolce vita. He had kicked cancer, he was proud of his latest collection, and life was good. That’s when I launched into my speech about yoga and how good it would be for his mind, body and soul. He seemed open, and I gave him my yoga teacher’s number. I could totally imagine this extravagant Calabrian with a twinkle in his eye in the lotus position. The great yogis believe there is no end to life. I’m inclined to agree. Even though Gianni’s life on this earth has ended, his spirit is everywhere, and his soul lives forever”.

This is an excerpt from an essay by Madonna published in Time magazine two weeks after the murder of Gianni Versace.


Gianni for Madonna was not just a designer who was dressing her, but a close friend. She starred in his advertising campaigns, lived in his villa on Lake Como, was friends with his sister – and was with Donatella on the day of the murder.

After the identification, I went to his villa on the Ocean Drive,” Donatella Versace said. “Madonna was waiting for me there. I will never forget how she tried to calm me during these hours”.

Madonna and Donatella have been close friends for more than twenty years now. Together they work on the Versace advertising campaigns, sit at the same table at social dinners and tell tales on how Donald Trump tried to seduce them with a bucket of KFC chicken.



Madonna and Azzedine Alaia

If you watch the music video for Bad Girl from 1993, then under the plastic packaging from dry cleaners that Madonna tears apart, you can see a black suit with Alaia logo. Of course, this move is not a product placement at all, but a homage to a designer whom the singer admired. The designer felt the same. If you look at the pictures by Steven Meisel, you can see it in the way Alaia looks at Madonna.


Madonna and Jean Paul Gaultier

When it comes to Madonna and fashion designers, Jean Paul-Gaultier is the very first who comes to mind. The Cone Bra in which the singer appeared on stage in 1990 during the Blonde Ambition tour, made both the designer and the signer world-famous. Following this success the designer was asked to make costumes for films Kika by Almodóvar and The Fifth Element by Luc Besson. He also sold 65 million of units of perfume in a corset-like vial like Madonna’s.


Gauthier met Madonna in 1987 after her concert in Paris: she already wore his dresses, and he admired the singer’s ability to invent her own style without needing a professional stylist.


“I remember I saw a video where she wore a black and gold corset: I could have designed it, but it was designed by Frederick’s of Hollywood. Then I thought: why did she not ask for a corset from me? Later, I gave her my sketches with images, and a year later Madonna called me”.

And then there were 350 suits that Gaultier came up with for the Blonde Ambition tour. This was followed by a stunning show by Jean Paul Gaultier in 1992 when they walked down the runway together and Madonna was wearing a corset that was exposing her breasts. There also was their work on the Drowned World, Confessions, MDNA, Met Gala and lots of dinners.


Madonna and Stella McCartney

“It was a nightmare!” – that’s how Stella McCartney describes her first time meeting with Madonna, after which there was a flood at the designer’s house. McCartney took a bath when Madonna arrived and was not ready for the meeting.

“I panicked, ran to open the door, there were paparazzi everywhere that I was enraged. On the fitting, I told Madonna that she had a fat butt. She laughed … and bought a few things. And when I returned to the bathroom, the water poured over the edge, the floor was all wet”.

But since then, Stella and Madonna became close friends: the designer prepares costumes for tours and the Met Gala, dances with her on stage and even recently shot Lourdes, Madonna’s daughter, in Stella McCartney advertising campaign.


Text: Irina Gorskaia

Images: Billboard, Vogue, Vanity Fair

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2018 Irina Gorskaia

Leave a Reply