Donatella Versace on Bruno Mars' Super Bowl Look: "We Had to Work Fast"

Bruno Mars  onstage during the Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show at Levi's Stadium - P 2016
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images

"When you're making a look that will be seen by millions all over the world, you need a message that's bold and strong," adds the Italian designer.

Bruno Mars has worn Versace to the White House and to the MTV VMAs, and on Sunday he and his crew performed in custom looks designed by the luxury Italian house on the world’s biggest stage, Super Bowl 50.

On Thursday he sent flowers (white roses) to Donatella Versace thanking her for the baseball jersey-inspired ensemble she designed, which showcased signature Versace golden touches: Medusa gold buttons and gold Greek key trim (Mars completed the looks with gold swoosh Nike Cortez sneakers and gold chains).

Donatella, who has had experience creating unforgettable, culture-shifting looks for A-listers before — Jennifer Lopez’s deep-V green floral gown at the 42nd annual Grammys and Angelina Jolie’s strapless high-slit “right leg” dress at the 2012 Oscars — spoke exclusively to Billboard about working with Mars and watching the game. 

Congrats on your first Super Bowl look! What has this experience meant to you? 

It has been such an honor to be involved with such an iconic global sporting event. Truly, the eyes of the world are watching this never-to-be-repeated event. Everything has to be perfect on the night, and it was thrilling to be given the challenge.

What did it mean to you being able to design this look for Bruno?

When you're making a look that will be seen by millions all over the world, you need a message that's bold and strong. As with many things in fashion, we had to work fast, but it was so much fun to create.

What’s your history with Bruno?

I fell in love with Bruno when I saw him perform at the Met Gala [in 2012]. He is like an explosion on the stage, so energetic and so totally natural. Bruno is everything that I love — a genius whose talent is innate, so strong that he can't keep it in. It's like he has to perform, and it is a pleasure for me to see him do so in Versace.

What’s your favorite Versace look that he’s worn?  

As well as his Super Bowl look, I think my favorite was the silk shirt he wore to the most recent VMAs, where he won for "Uptown Funk." He looked so effortless, so cool, like a total winner.

How was designing the Super Bowl look different than designing something for the red carpet or an awards show?

When we create outfits for performers on stage, we always think about how they are going to move, what the pieces should do for them. We talked with Bruno about the look he wanted to achieve, and also what the performance would be like. As with every performer, it's about helping them to be their best and be a true star.

Did you watch the show?

Of course! We had a Super Bowl party in Milan to celebrate. I can't say that I understood many of the rules because I'm Italian — soccer is more my game. But however much I love soccer, we don't get to see Bruno Mars play at halftime, so maybe American football has its advantages.

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