Gianni Versace

Fashion Designer

United States • Milan

28 December 2009

Gianni Versace

1946 – 1997


Gianni Versace was regarded as the designer of choice by entertainers and professionals alike, who were attracted to his classics with an edge. 

He was full-bodied, flamboyant, and extravagant. Attracting Rock legends to his creations. He was the unopposed King of Glamour who built a $ l billion fashion empire. Gianni Versace was born on December 2, 1946.

His father Antonio was an appliance salesman and had a tailoring store in Reggio Calbria.

 As a young boy, he learned to design and make his own clothes.
Several of his designs were sold at the family store.

At the age of nine, he designed his first dress, an off the shoulder velvet gown.

He worked for his mother until he was 25. 1972 He moved to Milan and worked for a short time with Florentine Flowers, then with De Parisini of Santa Margherita. He designed some “instant” summer wear, which flew off the racks. 1973 He worked with Callaghan (Novara), Genny (Ancona), with Alma and also conceived and designed a line of his own called Complice.

1978 Versace opened his first shop on the via Spiga in Milan.

He presented his first signature collection as well as his first menswear collection. He used as his Logo, the head of MEDUSA the woman from ancient Greek legend, who had snakes instead of hair. 1982 He won the L’Occhio d’Oro for the best fashion designer for his Fall/Winter collection, displaying the now famous metal garments made of light aluminium mesh. In 1985, his Instante collection hit the store stands. In 1989 he opened the Atelier Versace, a couture workshop.

Versace presented Versus, a new line for young people looked after by Gianni’s sister Donatella.

1990 Versace launched his Classic V2 line and his Signature line which interpreted his vision in easier versions. He also had the guts to put Jeans on the catwalk during a couture show, which rocked the fashion world. 1991 He received the L’Occhio d’Oro for the 4th time proclaiming him the most creative and innovative designer for men.


In 1992 Gianni Versace moved to Miami Beach, Florida and purchased a home at 1116 Ocean Drive formerly known as the Amsterdam Palace for $2.9 million. 1992 Versace unveiled an array of leather bondage dresses, which accentuated sexuality. As usual, this caused a furore. 1993 He designed the new line Home Signature, a line of home furnishings and products. Furthermore Versace was awarded the coveted American Fashion Oscar, on February 1, 1993.

1994 A London newspaper made claims that Versace’s empire was funded by the Mafia. He sued and received $ 150,000 settlement and a public apology. After receiving city approval to demolish the Revere Hotel next-door, a two-story, 6,100-foot addition was built transforming the entire structure into a palatial home which Versace named Casa Casuarina.

Gianni Versace’s initial connection with Miami, South Beach in particular, came when he designed the sensual T-shirt-and-pastel-jacket look for Miami Vice, a look that exuded a fresh style that would soon sweep the country and set the tone for a decade of wild and reckless living. Versace was murdered on July 15, 1997, at the age of 51, outside his Miami Beach mansion; he was shot to death on his front steps. Andrew Cunanan, who was wanted for murdering four other people in a killing spree (all of the victims, including Versace, homosexual), became a prime suspect.

Cunanan fled and hid from the police. Eight days later he committed suicide in a houseboat on Miami Beach that was under siege by armed police. 1998 The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of New York, held an exhibition of Gianni Versace’s creations, from the ultra-classic to the cool and modern. His flair and daring will always be remembered. In late 2002, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London held a wonderful retrospective exhibition of Gianni Versace’s most memorable gowns. This was attended by thousands of people and was most successful.

the label:

After the death of Gianni Versace, his sister, Donatella Versace, took over his business.

Donatella continued usage of the family’s trademark of using bright colors and designs. She was born in Reggio Calabria Italy, in 1959, being 13 years younger than Gianni. Brother and sister had a very close relationship and Gianni considered her his muse. She started as accessories designer, then took over Versace Young, the children’s line.

Then she was head designer for Versus, the youth line.
Many good friends, including Giorgio Armani, showed up on Donatella’s first runway show after Gianni’s death, to give her support.

The fashion world accepted her as a full-fledged designer. However the house of Versace experienced sagging sales for two years. However, in 2000 the house of Versace finally found a resurgence of sales. Donatella blossomed and in the last two years has become a premier fashion designer in her own right, and not just Gianni’s little sister.

the Look:

He was one of the most important Italian designers of the 1980’s and 90’s, famous for his strong colour sense and clean lines. He like to wrap the female form, often with bias-cut clothes and fluid silks. Many of his ideas were audacious, but all were carried out to a high level of technical achievement. Versace viewed his clothes as powerful statement which were executed with unfailing confidence. Almost always the body was swathed or the garment wrapped in some manner. In his clothes, classical historical references blend with bold geometric shapes and complex textures in brilliant colours.

His designs are unmistakable, he enjoyed working with leather and experimenting with new fabrics and trimmings. His designs for the theatre and ballet, undoubtedly influenced his fashion work.

Today Donatella Versace runs the Versace Empire,  still with the highest standards and the families creative touch which would make her brother Gianni proud.