Donatella Versace in cocaine clinic

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THE curse of the Versace family has struck again after it was confirmed last night that the celebrity fashion designer, Donatella, was undergoing rehabilitation for cocaine addiction.

Donatella, 49, has long had a drug problem. The news that she is undergoing therapy comes just days after the seventh anniversary of the murder of her brother Gianni, who was gunned down on the doorstep of his Miami mansion.

The permanently bronzed queen of fashion who counts Elton John and the Beckhams as her friends was last seen in public at the Milan men’s show looking very thin. Days earlier she had been photographed at the 18th birthday party of her daughter, Allegra.

Rumours that Donatella, who is split from Allegra’s father, Paul Beck, had gone into therapy surfaced this month when she failed to show up for the Paris fashion show for the first time in years.

Yesterday a spokesman at the company’s Milan headquarters confirmed that Donatella was in a United States drugs clinic and added: "The company views this as a private matter and there will be no further comment."

One Italian fashion writer said: "The rumour that Donatella was in rehab surfaced at the end of June. She looked a terrible state. She had lost 10kg in weight and looked terribly thin. She had a wig or hair extensions on during the Milan show because her hair had fallen out.

"It’s long been known that she has a problem with drugs, so I'm not surprised she has gone into a clinic.

"It's such a shame the Versace family just seems to be going from one problem to another. Things haven’t gone right since Gianni’s murder, and the company has been losing money ever since.

"Allegra has also had health problems, and now Donatella is in a clinic."

Following his death in July 1997, Gianni Versace left 50 per cent of the company to Allegra, his favourite niece. She inherited her share on 30 June.

The rest of the shares belong to Donatella, who owns 30 per cent, and Allegra’s uncle Santo, who has 20 per cent.

However, the company has seen its value tumble from 500 million to 250 million, with the accounts this month reporting a loss of almost 20 million.

According to Vogue magazine, the company denies that Donatella’s drug addiction was behind its decision not to present a spring/summer 2004 couture collection.

"The money allocated for couture was put into marketing and advertising for the ready-to-wear and accessory lines," it said.