11/01/2011 11:51 am ET | Updated Jan 01, 2012

Donatella Versace Talks H&M, Her Troubled Past (PHOTOS)

Donatella Versace is one of fashion's most distinctive characters, so it is only fitting that moments of her life read like scenes from a movie.

A recent Daily Beast interview with the Italian designer describes her entering a room:

Finally, at 4:05, she rolls in, wearing a slinky black dress and sky-high stilettos, trailed by a phalanx of subordinates. ("It's in her DNA to be late," says Franca Sozzani, the editor in chief of Italian Vogue and a close friend of Donatella's for many years.) She clutches a pack of Marlboro Reds and a lighter bedazzled with rhinestones. There's water on a tray behind her, in a large glass emblazoned with the Versace Medusa-head logo. These things -- the cigarette lighter, her Reds, and that glass of water -- accompany Donatella everywhere. "We don't know how that glass gets there every time, but it always does," a member of her staff says.

Really, you can't make this stuff up. But if Donatella is going to live extravagantly, now is her moment: the Versace creative director is back in headlines for her brand's much-anticipated collaboration with H&M, set to hit stores on November 17.

In case just the words "H&M collaboration" weren't enticing enough, Donatella says the line is going to be a veritable Greatest Hits. She told, "All these people reacting to what was in the archives -- Gaga, the people in London, the young kids in the office -- they're 25 years old, they're obsessed... But they don't know the whole story. So we did a best of Versace for H&M, a greatest hits, from the beginning until now."

It's true that many young fans don't know the whole story, including Donatella's less than sunny past. She spoke with the Daily Beast about the loss of her brother, Gianni, who was shot in Miami in 1997, as well as the worsening addiction to cocaine that followed.

But a determined fashionista can kick a bad habit, and Donatella did. Said Vogue Italia editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani to the Daily Beast,

"The only thing she complained about was not being able to wear high heels. She said, 'I can give up anything, but not my high heels.' She's totally ironic and self-aware."

That's the Donatella we know and love.

Read more about the iconic Versace designer on the Daily Beast and in the new issue of And if you're itching for a preview, take a look at Versace for H&M below.

Versace for H&M Lookbook, 2011(CLONED)