Gianni Versace was an Italian fashion designer and founder of Versace, an international fashion house that produces accessories, fragrances, make-up, home furnishings, and clothes.

Gianni Versace Early Life

  • Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace was born in the city of Reggio Calabria, Italy on 2 December 1946. 
  • He grew up with his elder brother Santo Versace and younger sister Donatella Versace, along with their father and dressmaker mother, Francesca.
  • He attended Liceo Classico Tommaso Campanella, where he studied Latin and ancient Greek, without completing the course.
  • Gianni Versace began his apprenticeship at a young age, at his mother’s sewing business, which employed up to a dozen seamstresses.

Gianni Versace Rise to Fame

  • He became interested in architecture before moving to Milan at the age of 26 to work in fashion design.
  • In 1973, he became the designer of “Byblos”, a successful Genny’s youthful line. In 1977, he designed Complice, another, more experimental, line for Genny. 
  • Gianni Versace considered himself a tailor, rather than a designer. He knew how to cut and sew the clothes he made. 
  • He tried on the men’s collections personally and had his sister, Donatella try on the women’s clothing.
  • A few years later, encouraged by his success, Versace presented his first signature collection for women at the Palazzo della Permanente Art Museum of Milan. 
Gianni Versace
Gianni Versace
  • His first fashion show followed in September of the same year. Later his first boutique was opened in Milan’s Via della Spiga in 1978.
  • From 1978, Gianni Versace built the company with the support of his family, employing his sister Donatella as Vice President and his brother Santo as President of the company.
  • He used celebrities, including Madonna, Jon Bon Jovi, Naomi Campbell, Tina Turner, and even Tupac Shakur as models for both the runway and print ads. 
  • In 1982, Versace opened a new chapter in his career, making costumes for the theatre, opera and ballet. He began a close collaboration with choreographer Maurice Bejart. 
  • He went on to design accessories, jewellery, furnishings, and china. Later Versace was also hired as a costume designer on the TV series, ‘Miami Vice’. This led to his relocation to Miami Beach.

Gianni Versace Design

  • His designs employed vivid colors, bold prints, and sexy cuts, which were a refreshing contrast to the prevailing taste for muted colors and simplicity. 
  • Soon his aesthetic “combined luxurious classicism with overt sexuality,” attracted much criticism in addition to praise.
  • Among Versace’s most famous innovations was his 1982 invention of a type of super-light chainmail called ‘Oroton’.
  • He liked to create sexy clothes for his women, skin-tight with low cuts and high slits on the skirts. 
  • Versace was among the first to revive the cat suit, to bring back the mini skirt, to show tights worn as trousers, to bring the bustier out at night and bead it. 
  • Versace was very proud of his southern Italian heritage and infused his designs with especially Greeco-Roman art. This is evident in the company’s logo, the Medusa Head, and recurring motifs like the Greek key. 
  • In 1982, his dresses made with fine metal mesh first appeared and were a hit. In less than 10 years, Versace built an empire worth $808 million and included 130 boutiques across the world.

Versace Personal Life and Death

  • Versace met his partner D’Amico, a model, in 1982. During that time, D’Amico worked as a designer for the company, having become head designer for Istante and Versus Sport. 
  • Later in 1997, Doctor diagnosed Versace with cancer of the ear. His cancer went into remission. 
  • A Serial Killer shot and killed Versace on 15 July 1997, at the age of 50, on the steps of his Miami Beach mansion as he returned from a morning walk on Ocean Drive.
  • Serial killer Andrew Cunanan committed suicide shortly after the murder. Later police reported that Andrew Cunanan had committed suicide using the same handgun that had been used to murder Gianni Versace. 
  • In September 1997, company announced Versace’s brother, Santo Versace as the new CEO of the Versace holding. Versace’s sister Donatella Versace is the new head of his designs.

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