Gianni Versace Biography
Gianni Versace, born Giovanni Maria ‘Gianni’ Versace was a fashion designer from Italy. He was the founder of the international fashion house, Versace.
His fashion house produces accessories, fragrances, home furnishings, clothes, and make-up. He designed costumes for film and theatre. He is noted as one of the first designers to link fashion to the music world. This was owing to his friendships with notable artists like Tupac, Eric Clapton, Diana, Princess of Wales, Naomi Campbell, Madonna, Cher, Elton John, Cher, and many other celebrities. He was a regular on the international party scene together with his partner, Antonio D’Amico. He was shot and killed outside his Miami Beach mansion on the 15th of July in 1997.
Gianni Versace Family
He was born in the city of Reggio Calabria in Italy. He was born on the 2nd of December in 1946. He was born to Antonio and Franceska Versace. He had an older brother named Santo and a small sister named Donatella. He had an older sister named Tina who died at the age of 12 as a result of a poorly treated tetanus infection. His mother was a dressmaker.
In 1994, he met his partner, Antonio D’Amico who was a model. The relationship between the two lasted until his murder. He was diagnosed with cancer of the ear.
D’Amico worked in the design department of the company. He was head designer for Istante and Versus Sport. In his will, he left D’Amico a lifelong pension of 50 million lire, the monetary equivalent of €25,822 per month. In addition, he was given the right to live in any of Versace’s residences in Italy and the U.S. However, he only obtained a fraction of these allowances due to interference by Versace’s family.
He was affectionate to his nieces and nephews.
Gianni Versace Career
At an early age, he began his apprenticeship at his mother’s sewing business. At the age of 26, he moved to Milan to work in fashion design.
He became the designer of Byblos, a Genny’s youthful line that was successful. This was i 1973. In 1997, he was the designer of Genny’s experimental line, Complice.
Encouraged by his success, he presented his first signature women’s collection at the Palazzo della Permanente Art Museum of Milan. The same year, in September, he had his first fashion show.
In 1978, he opened his first boutique in Milan’s Via Della Spiga. He quickly became a sensation on the international fashion scene. He brought new designs that incorporated vivid colors, sexy cuts, and bold prints. These brought a refreshing contrast to the existing muted colors and simplicity. He combined luxurious class with overt sexuality, this got much praise. He became rivals with fellow designer Giorgio Armani. A famous quote resulted from this rivalry: Armani dresses the wife, Versace dresses the mistress.
He built the company from 1978 with family support. He employed his sister Donatella as company Vice President while giving his brother Santo the position of President. Donatella’s husband, Paul Beck, was employed as men’s wear director. In 1982, he invented what is arguably his most famous design in the form of a super-light chainmail known as ‘Oroton’. This became a signature material in his creations.
His suits accentuated the male body and were made to perceive men as sex objects. This came from his experience in tailoring female-oriented garments.
He was proud of his Southern Italian heritage, infusing his designs with motifs from historical fashion and art movements. He was fascinated and strongly influenced by ancient Greek history. The company’s logo, which is the Medusa head, is evidence of this. He also used recurring motifs such as the Greek key. He also cited his inspiration as Roy Lichtenstein(late American pop artist) and Andy Warhol(late American artist).
1982 saw him expand his business to include jewelry and houseware. His company designed luxury furnishings, textiles, and china for the household. He retained complete creative control over all company aspects. With the 1989 launch of Atelier Versace, his company expanded into haute couture.
He became famous for employing celebrities in his marketing campaigns. Often, he would seat them in the front rows of his fashion shows. He discovered and featured major supermodels like Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington. As a result, he is credited with the invention of the supermodel vogue during the ’90s.
At the time of his demise, his empire was valued at $807 million. He had a number of 130 boutiques globally.
Gianni Versace Death
On the 15th of July in 1997, he was shot and killed on the steps of Casa Casuarina, his Miami Beach mansion. He was returning from a morning walk on Ocean Drive that fateful day. He was pronounced dead at 9:21 a.m. at the Jackson Memorial Hospital. As per the usual, his personal assistant would run his errands for him but he decided to go in person that day.
His murderer was later discovered to be spree killer, Andrew Cunanan. Cunanan was obsessed with Versace and would often claim to have a close friendship with the designer. This was not true, however, as he suffered from delusions of grandeur. He was often fond of claiming to have met and mingled with celebrities. Cunanan committed suicide on a houseboat eight days later, using the same gun he killed Versace with to take his own life.
It is believed by FBI agents that murderer and victim had previously met in San Francisco. However, details of this relationship are shrouded in mystery. In a 2008 Vanity Fair article by journalist Maureen Orth, she reported that the two had met at San Francisco nightclub in 1990. This was based on eye-witness claims by several people. There is a possibility that they might have interacted on further occasions as both were involved in sex-for-hire circles. His family has always denied religiously that the two ever met.
The reason behind the murder baffles the police to date. He was Cunanan’s fifth and final victim. His body was cremated and his ashes were returned to the family’s estate in Italy. They were buried at the family vault at the Moltrasio cemetery.
The Milan Cathedral was the location for his funeral liturgy. The event was attended by more than 2000 people. It was publicly announced over the media that Santo Versace, his brother, would serve as the new CEO of Gianni Versace S.p.A. Donatella Versace, his sister, became the new head of design. The announcements were made in September of 1997.
He left 50% of his empire to Allegra Versace, his niece. Alongside her younger brother Daniel, they inherited his collection of rare artwork. Upon turning 18 in 2004, Allegra inherited her stake which was approximately worth $500 million.
At the time of death, he was 50 years old.
Gianni Versace Netflix Show
On the 17th of January 2018, FX released the series The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. The series explores the Versace’s murder. It is based on the book Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History by Maureen Orth. The show received positive critical reviews and praise for most performances. It won three awards at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards.
Gianni Versace Awards
On the 1st of February in 1993, he was awarded the American Fashion Oscar.
On the 24th of January in 1996, he was awarded the Commendatore della Repubblica Italiana by then Italy president, Francesco Cossiga.
The 1997 Elton John album, The Big Picture, was dedicated to him.
Thanks, Gianni, With Love, a ballet written specifically for him was performed in La Scala, Milan. This was in July of 2007 marking the 10th anniversary of his death. The ballet was composed by the late Maurice Béjart, a French choreographer for whom Versace designed stage costumes.
The Russian Versace fan club was founded in 2009. The club has well over 1,500 members. The club indulges in lectures, actions, and excursions dedicated to Versace. Club headquarters are located in St. Petersburg, Russia.
He was posthumously awarded the America Award from the Italy-USA Foundation in 2017.