The fantasy world of fashion was shattered in the early morning of July 15, 1997 in south Beach. The world was in disbelief as every single news station blasting the tragedy that ended Gianni Versace.
Like many of the great designers, Gianni came from a modest background. His father Antonio was a local coal merchant, his mother Francesca sewed dresses for the elite townswomen, and Gianni made his first dress – a blue one-shoulder evening gown – at the age of nine. Some forty years later, Princess Diana wore a version of that creation.
The Versace empire was born when he was only 32 years of age, right alongside brother Antonio. Sister Donatella joined the team giving it even stronger personality with her flamboyant party adding her own spicy even farther to the vibrant Versace.
Gianni Versace was always compared to Giorgio Armani’s despite completely different style, one with all it’s glory and vibrant colors the other very minimalist and yet elegant in every sense of the way. Maybe the comparison was purely the success in the industry.
The designer had a taste for the beautiful things associated with anything of character. He was known for his extravagant parties including celebrities, alcohol, and everything else where money was not a subject of subtance.
The lavish evening would start with very expensive models (both male and female). Versace was known for showering his guests with trunks and trunks full of his collections, jewelry, shoes, it was said by one of his exclusive models, “if you dream about it, Versace will deliver. “The phrase, “we don’t get out of bed for less than ten thousand dollars” was very much a Gianni Versace creation. He paid these models way more than any other designer making it impossible for other designers to have what he had. Money played a big part in his success, he valued everyone’s time and was willing to pay for it.
The designer and the businessman run side by side in Versace’s brilliant mind. The power of celebrities as free publicity was a genius stroke. He quickly became one of Elton John admires and later good friends, Elton theatrical style was the perfect match for the exuberance of Gianni’s creations, he began combining links between the music industry it paid really well. The English Icon became a walking advertiser for the Italian label.
Among the artists dressed by Versace were Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson in their video for Say, Say Say,Bruce Springsteen on his Born in the USA tour, and rapper Tupac who couldn’t get enough of his famous Medusa head necklace worth $45 000.
Lady Diana looked stunning on her very ladylike blue dress where simplicity was timeless, still, a princess at the time gave the label a better-behaved image. And that was one of Gianni’s first creation nearly 40 years ago.
After the tragedy.
Donatella and her brother refused to let the tragedy affect the company, after all, it was the company that gave life to Versace in so many ways. His passion for his work gave him strength when he had none, gave him courage where none existed, gave him hope when it all seems to be a blur. And thru it all, he revolutionized the fashion industry.
Red carpet has never seen anyone like Elizabeth Hurley who in 1994 joined her incredibly famous actor boyfriend Hugh Grant by wearing a revealing black dress held together with oversized gold safety pins. That night both Liz Hurley and “that dress”, as it became known, history in fashion was made.
And that was simplicity at its best, leaving just enough for the imagination.
After Gianni‘s death, it was announced that Donatella would become creative director, with a 20 percent share of the business, and Santo was appointed CEO, with a 30 percent share. (Donatella’ daughter Allegra, who was eleven at the time, was left a 50 percent stake, which she assumed control over on her 18th birthday).
Donatella Versace honored her brother Last September in Milan, with a tribute runway show that brought the most iconic Versace looks out of the archives once more.
The artistic director gave us a show that only Versace could do, with a finale bringing together five of the biggest models of all time – Carla Bruni, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, and Helena Christensen – all swathed in gold lamé, reviving a golden age of fashion. Before 1986, these models with their sculptural physiques were more used to appearing on the pages of magazines than on the catwalks during fashion week. But pushed by Donatella, Gianni changed that and put them on his runway. It was a roaring success and the supermodel era began. Later, it was Donatella who suggested showing a young Kate Moss on a few months before she started walking the runways. At a time when fashion was embarking on globalization, these supermodels enflamed an already very flamboyant house of Versace.
Gianni Versace will live forever and so many ways. His perfume, his creations and his mansion still at the same place, it was sold for nearly 40 million dollars and it’s operated as a restaurant and a lavish hotel for anyone who would like to sept into the shoes.
You can actually go inside the Versace mansion. … The former home of the Italian fashion designer is now The Villa Casa Casuarina, a boutique hotel. Located at 1116 Ocean Drive on South Beach, the mansion was built in 1930 by architect Alden Freeman. Versace bought it in 1992.