After Poseidon raped Medusa in a temple dedicated to Athena, the goddess was so furious that she transformed the victim into a monster whose ugliness would turn anyone looking at her into stone. Even after she was beheaded by Perseus, Medusa’s head remained under this curse, although it was in fact turned into a powerful weapon once the head was placed on Athena’s shield. Medusa’s legend can thus be interpreted as yet another story where a rape victim was punished for what was in reality inflicted upon her at her own expenses. In this case, the penalty being that she could no longer be looked at and, conversely, look at anyone; in other terms, she was very symbolically denied the right to exist—as a person and as a victim—in the eyes of the entire world.
When Gianni Versace appropriated the iconography of Medusa’s head as a logo for his eponymous brand, he strategically exploited the ambiguity related to this emblem to turn it into a token of power and strength—just like Medusa’s head passed from the negative connotation of repulsiveness to being a protective charm when Athena started using it as a weapon. Between the lines, one thus understands that real beauty doesn’t lie in aesthetics but rather in empowerment and the power of fascination.
Stella’s crafted bags pay tribute to Medusa. Made out of recycled packaging, dried flowers and found objects, they allude to the myth of ugliness turned into beauty. If Versace’s iconic logo is not visible on the bags, it is precisely because the bags themselves become the epitome of Medusa’s head.