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BACKSTAGE: "Don’t Give a Fuck"

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Furnish fashion documentary on Versace armed with strong language
Thursday 24 October 2002 @ 18:57 - GMT

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Fame And Fashion: Inside Versace

One Hour

Channel 4 TV, October 22, 2002, 2000 GMT

Eltons partner and film maker David Furnish narrated this expose of Versace, one of the most enduring and luxurious Italian fashion houses of the twentieth century, during this programme on October 22, 2002.

Stars, such as Elton John, that have helped out Versace also helped out David, who walked around with video cam in hand, but mostly left it for the expert cameramen to bring images to life.

David referred to Liz Hurley as his "friend". It is a comment not missed by social circuit groupies, as Liz has attended several parties in Davids company recently.

Versace, David reminds us, was set up by Gianni Versace, the flamboyant designer, in 1978 and within 10 years was propelled to a 1.5 billion-pound empire. It now has more than 300 stores worldwide. The business is famous for sexy glamour, but new chief designer, Donnatella Versace, reckons it has more to do with sensuality.

David Furnish: "Theres a fine line between trash and sexy. Where is that line for you?"

Donnatella Versace: "I dont know what trash is!"

David also tells us: "No matter what her detractors say, she doesnt give a fuck" to steal an infamous term from Davids documentary about Elton in 1996: Tantrums and Tiaras.

Included in the fashion programme, which opens like a promotion for Versace, is footage from the Milan Pret A Porter, spring 2002 show. Celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Liz Hurley came across as cheapskate journalists who live off freebies from Donnatella. Lopez says unashamedly: "Its not what she (Donnatella) has. Its what she gives. And thats a beautiful thing."

The high-point of the social calendar, when houses like Versace really go all-out to draw top celebrities from film, stage and music to wear their clothes and advertise their clothes, is the Academy Awards, or "Oscars".

At the Beverly Hills Hotel complex, Donnatella is supposed to arrive to dress Elton personally. But she is running late for a 2pm appointment with Elton! Elton, not amused, accuses her of "still being in hair and make-up" herself! As he sits in silk gown, chin pushed into palm of his hand.

"Even I dont take THAT long," he scoffs.

David Furnish: "You were feeling perky an hour and a half ago."

EJ: Well, yeah, we were all feeling perky one and a half hours ago, when shed just got up to have breakfast."

DF: "What time did she have breakfast?"

EJ: "One oclock. Now what does that suggest to you?" Elton remarks with an air of juicy suspicion.

David takes a phone call: "Youre a few minutes away?"

EJ: A few minutes from what!" he yells from across the room.

It turns out Donnatella and her entourage are running another 10 minutes late making it about 40 minutes after 2pm that she will actually arrive, we gather. Not quite the three hours that some sources misreported.

EJ: Thats okay, well electrocute her when she comes through the door."

He then gestures with a smacking hand, as if to relieve someone asleep in a stupor: "Theyre probably having a wake up bitch, wake up bitch!"

Then Elton cuts the pranks. He has a sobering moment:

EJ: "Its very bad behaviour and doesnt reflect well on the House of Versace. Even thought Im getting a free Oscar out of it if it (garment) ever comes through the door. Not that were being bitchy. Were just telling it like it is. We love her really."

Donnatellas public relations and entourage arrive before she sets foot in the door, to the strain of Davids overdub of Goldfinger.

Elton greets Donnatella as if nothing ever happened, and slips off to put on the garment Donnatella personally handed him.

Elton loves his black embroidered suit!

Ironically,, Donnatellas apartment is next door (!) to Eltons in the complex.

And the moment all have waited for the EJAF Oscar Night Party in Hollywood.

Elton plays a few bars of Rocket Man live with some motley crew it is not the best version all told!

The V&As Versace exhibition (see review last week on this site) is paid a visit, to the strains of a classical rendition of 1983 monster hit for Kraftwerk, The Model.

Eltons only musical contribution? Rocket Man. And it shows that David no longer lives in the shoe of Elton. Well, only a Versace shoe.