Michael Kors splurges on Versace

The American group’s spree underlines its desire to become a European-style luxury conglomerate.

THE style and story of Versace, an Italian fashion house, are marked by opulence and drama, on and off the catwalk. Liz Hurley, a British starlet, shimmied down the red carpet in a Versace dress held together with golden safety pins in the 1990s. Later that decade, Gianni Versace, the brand’s founder, was gunned down on the steps of his home in Miami.

Versace might seem an odd fit, then, with Michael Kors, an American fashion house at the lower end of the luxury market which is known for its affordable handbags and preppy sportswear. But on September 25th the American brand announced it was buying Versace for €1.83bn ($2.1bn). The Versace family currently hold 80% of the business; the rest is owned by Blackstone, the world’s largest private-equity firm.