Gianni Versace would have had a birthday today. He leaves this world at the age of 50, shot dead in front of his house in Miami, Florida in 1997. He is killed by a 27-year-old man, who himself is found dead a few days after he deprives the world of one of the best fashion designers ever. We start the story about this unusual, glamorous and very short life backwards. Because everything is transient, because of the elusiveness of days, because of the changes in time, because his life was unfairly taken away.
Versace, a 32-year-old Calabrian, presents his first fashion line in Milano in 1978 and years later, in 1989, he creates his first haute couture collection. His love for fashion dates back to his childhood. The main reason for this love for design and art is his mother, who he goes to work with after he graduates from school. She reveals to him the secret world of fabrics and the magic of designs. To Versace, fashion has always been a family business – together with his brother Santo and his famous sister Donatella, who takes up the empire after his death.
The siren dresses as well as the head of Medusa in the logo become iconic for the brand. Through time, Versace uses exceptionally innovative materials and technologies. Almost all celebrities – from Madonna to Princess Diana – have been loyal admirers of Versace. But Elizabeth Hurley is the actress who owes him a great deal of her popularity – his black dress with a seductive slash and supported by golden safety pins (as well as Hugh Grant’s embrace) shoots Elizabeth to space. Anna Wintour, who, as we all know, is very difficult when it comes to being impressed, herself shares that Versace was the first one to recognise the importance and influence of supermodels and of celebrities being invited in the front row during fashion shows, and he is the greatest ambassador of Italian fashion all over the world.
This is namely why he is adored by Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Christy Turlington and who else not. Versace creates stage outfits for Elton John, Madonna, Tina Turner. His creations are exhibited in a number of museums, amongst which are the National Field Museum in Chicago, London’s Royal College of Art, Kobe City Museum in Japan and Kunstgewerbemuseum in Germany. In 1992 he presents his first personal fragrances and a little bit later on – his home fragrances. And all this before turning 50. He builds up an entire fashion empire worth $807 million. He takes fashion to another level. He introduces glamour, splendour and sex appeal. And what would he have created further if his lifeline hadn’t been so ridiculously cut off? We may only guess.
Text: Tea Denolyubova