There’s no denying that Gianni Versace came and transformed the fashion scene in the 80s and 90s. He established a name for dressing the rich and famous, the young and fearless. The exclusivity of his brand personified his ideals of men and women’s couture and ready-to-wear clothing. He also created linens, accessories, and a collection for the home enthused by his fondness for the baroque style. Gianni’s knowledge in history and design was encyclopedic and this genius became the thriving bond of culture and fashion.
The Start Of Gianni’s Legacy
Gianni launched The Gianni Versace Company in 1978 in Milan, Italy. He involved his younger sister Donatella in business affairs as a muse and supervisor. The budding designer picked the Medusa head to represent the brand’s logo. According to Greek mythology, Medusa made people fall in love with her and had no way to fall out of it. That is what Gianni hoped his designs would impact his clients.
The brand continued to grow throughout Europe. Aside from the clothing, handbags, accessories, and home products Gianna was known for, he also became a successful “Rock ‘n Roll” designer. He customized some iconic pieces for Michael Jackson, Madonna, Cher, and Sting. Elton John donned Gianni’s work in his album covers and tours. Versace was one of the first major designers to link music and fashion together.
The house’s second most successful line was the Versace Haute Couture. His milestones in the industry earned him great respect and prestigious awards such as the Silver Mask Award and the first American Fashion Oscar from the CFDA in NYC.
On a fateful day in July 1997, the world seemed to stand still as the 50-year old Gianni was murdered on the steps of his Miami mansion. The serial killer Andrew Cunanan was on a spree and Versace turned out to be his fifth and final victim. He committed suicide eight days later.
All Eyes On Donatella
Following Gianni’s tragic death, his sister Donatella, then the Vice President, took over as Versace’s Creative Director while their brother, Santo, became CEO. Donatella was instantly catapulted into the international limelight as she shouldered the development of a dozen highly demanding collections. An earlier promise between the two Versace designers had established that she would be the one to carry on his work if it were ever necessary.
Donatella Versace was born in 1955, in the town of Reggio Calabria, Italy. She was one of four children born to an accomplished seamstress and businessman. During her childhood, her brother Gianni designed clothing for his younger sister, who became the embodiment of his standards.
After completing her degree in Italian literature at the Università di Firenze, Donatella followed her brother to Milan, where he had developed his career. She arrived with the intention of shaping Gianni’s public image through the deft management of his relations. Their older sibling, Santo, helped in the foundation of the business, which he continues to manage.
Now seated at the head of the brand, Donatella certainly proved her critics wrong. She has led Versace into further success with her entrance-making gowns, as well as stunning, ready-to-wear men and women’s clothes. Donatella cared deeply about two things: standing out and feeling confident. Her larger-than-life approach to creating designer pieces reflects her brother’s maxim that fashion must fuse with sexuality, celebrity, and vitality.
The high priestess of fashion staged audacious Versace runway shows after her beloved brother’s death, enlisting the loyalty and friendship of various supermodels. Donatella also continued to work on the brand’s flamboyant advertising campaigns, which Gianni started. The brand was relentless in releasing dynamic, sexually charged media promotions in the early 2000s as it spread its share of the luxury markets.
The devotion of the Versace siblings to each other was an integral part of the company’s accomplishments. The duo’s vision of high glamor and bold patterns infused with sex appeal empowered their Versus collection. While Donatella was independent in her thinking, she remained deeply committed to her brother’s legacy.
Donatella’s camaraderie with famous names, including Elton John, Courtney Love, and Elizabeth Hurley mirrored her belief in the significance of steadfast friendships. Jon Bon Jovi, Madonna, Trudie Skyler, and Sting were among her closest confidants. She combined the spectacle of contemporary urban life with music and the media, employing shirt skirts and plunging necklines as devices of freedom.
Fashion Is Freedom
When other brands seem to imitate one another, Versace stands out. The chief designer reveled in the attention she received in popular fashion and lifestyle magazines. He pursued visibility at all levels of society and was always ready to show a peek at the extravagance that identified her company.
Versace told in an interview, “I’m feeling very confident right now with my work and my vision of fashion.” She added, “People sometimes want to put down fashion by saying it’s frivolous or superficial, but it’s not that way at all. It’s actually very hard work. I have to have the sensibility to keep the company in good shape because there are so many people working for it, and we need to have the company grow and also be relevant.”
Latest news revealed that Michael Kors has agreed to acquire the Italian fashion house for $2.1bn (£1.6bn). Donatella Versace said that this is an exciting moment for the company. “Versace is not only synonymous with its iconic and unmistakable style, but with being inclusive and embracing of diversity, as well as empowering people to express themselves… I recognize that this next step will allow Versace to reach its full potential.”
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