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Versace in 1982
December 2, 1946|
Reggio Calabria, Italy
|Died||July 15, 1997
Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.
|Cause of death||Murder|
|Resting place||Near Cernobbio, Italy|
|Partner(s)||Antonio D'Amico (1982–1997)|
|Relatives||Donatella Versace (sister)
Santo Versace (brother)
|Awards||1993: American Fashion Oscar
1986: Commendatore della Repubblica Italiana
Gianni Versace (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒanni verˈsaːtʃe]; December 2, 1946 – July 15, 1997) was an Italian fashion designer and founder of Gianni Versace S.p.A., an international fashion house, which produces accessories, fragrances, makeup and home furnishings as well as clothes. He also designed costumes for the theatre and films, and was a friend of Diana, Princess of Wales, Madonna, Elton John, Cher, Sting and many other celebrities. Openly gay, Versace and his partner Antonio D'Amico were regulars on the international party scene. Versace was murdered outside his Miami Beach home, the former Casa Casuarina now known as "The Villa By Barton G.", at the age of 50 by spree killer Andrew Cunanan.
Early life 
Gianni Versace was born in Reggio Calabria, Italy, on December 2, 1946, where he grew up with his older brother Santo and younger sister Donatella, along with their father and dressmaker mother, Francesca. An older sister, Tina, died at the age of 12 from an improperly treated tetanus infection.
Versace began his apprenticeship at a young age, helping his mother find precious stones and gold braid with which to embroider dresses. He studied architecture before moving to Milan at the age of 26 to work in fashion design.
In the mid-1970s, his knits drew the attention of headhunters at Genny and Callaghan. Complice hired him to design their leather and suede collections, and a few years later, encouraged by his success, Versace presented his first signature collection for women at the Palazzo della Permanente Art Museum of Milan. His first mion followed in September of the same year. After presenting his menswear collection he joined Jorge Saud, who would later also become a partner with Giorgio Armani. The first boutique was opened in Milan's Via della Spiga in 1978. He was influenced by Andy Warhol, as well as Ancient Roman and Greek art and also abstract art.
Personal life 
Versace met his partner Antonio D'Amico, a model, in 1982. Their relationship lasted until Versace's murder. During that time, D'Amico worked as a designer for the company, becoming head designer for Istante and Versus Sport. Versace's will left D'Amico with a pension of 50 million lire (about $26,000) a month (for life), and the right to live in any of Versace's homes in Italy and the United States. However, due to Versace family interference he only obtained a fraction of these allowances. D'Amico now runs his own fashion company.
Versace was known for doting upon his nieces and nephews: Santo's two children, Francesca and Antonio Versace, and Donatella's two children, Allegra and Daniel Versace.
Death and legacy 
Versace was shot dead on July 15, 1997, aged 50, on the steps of his Miami Beach mansion as he returned from a morning walk on Ocean Drive. Usually, Versace would have an assistant from his home walk to the coffee shop to receive his morning papers, but on this morning he was in high spirits and took the chore upon himself. He was murdered by Andrew Cunanan, who used the same gun to commit suicide on a boat eight days later. Police have said they do not know why Versace was killed. "I don't know that we are ever going to know the answers," said Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Barreto. Versace's body was cremated and his ashes returned to the family's estate near Cernobbio, Italy.
In his will, Gianni Versace left 50 percent of his fashion empire to his niece Allegra Versace. Her younger brother, Daniel, inherited Versace's rare artwork collection. Allegra inherited her stake, worth around half a billion dollars, when she turned 18 in 2004. 
Versace was involved in numerous onscreen projects.
- Spiceworld (1997) – Scenes were deleted because of his death before the premiere.
- Catwalk (1996, documentary film)
- VH1 Fashion and Music Awards (1995, movie)
- Look (1994, television show)
Costume designer, costumes, wardrobe 
- A Life Less Ordinary (1997, film) – costumes provider
- Ballet for Life (1997, ballet)
- VH1 Fashion Awards (1997, television) – wardrobe
- The Birdcage (1996, movie)
- Mad Dog Time (1996, film) – special thanks
- Shakespeare Shorts (1996, TV series)
- Judge Dredd (1995, film)
- Magic of David Copperfield XVI: Unexplained Forces (1995, television) – costume designer
- Showgirls (1995, film) – other
- To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995) – special thanks
- Kika (1993, film) – costume designer
- Born Yesterday (1993, film) – wardrobe
- Cin cin, also known as A Fine Romance (1992, film) – costumes
- Once Upon a Crime (1992, film) – wardrobe
- Vacanze di Natale, also known as Christmas Vacations (1991, film)
- Crystal or Ash, Fire or Wind, as Long as It's Love (1989, film) – costumes
- Hard to Kill (1990, film) – wardrobe
- Miami Vice (1989, TV series)
Production designer 
- Elton John Live in Barcelona (1992, video documentary)
Awards and tributes 
- Versace was awarded the American Fashion Oscar on February 1, 1993.
- President of the Italian Republic Francesco Cossiga, conferred the decoration of Commendatore della Repubblica Italiana on him on January 24, 1986.
- Elton John dedicated his 1997 album The Big Picture to Versace.
- In July 2007, a specially written ballet was performed in La Scala, Milan, Italy to mark the 10th anniversary of the fashion designer's death. Thanks Gianni, With Love was put together by French choreographer Maurice Béjart, for whom Versace designed many stage costumes.
- In 2009 the Russian Versace fan club was founded. There are 1,500 members (July 2012). The fan club is known with its lectures, excursions and actions, dedicated to Gianni Versace. The Staff of the club is situated in Saint-Petersburg, Russia.
In popular culture 
In books 
- Elements of Versace's story figure in Robert H. Miller's 2011 thriller Silent Partners (Notramour Press, ISBN=978-0967748023).
In film 
In music 
- Dress designer for Michael Jackson's HIStory World Tour (1996–1997).
- Eminem mocked his death in his song "Criminal" off the album The Marshall Mathers LP (2000).
In television 
- He is referred to by character Father Dougal McGuire in the Father Ted episode, "Escape From Victory" (1998), saying: "You remember that fella, who was so good at fashion, they had to shoot him?"
- He is referred to by character Betty Draper in an episode of Mad Men (9/13/07 air date); she describes her experience modeling in Italy, where she met or worked with a designer named Gianni who liked to be called Johnny.
Notes and references 
- Collins, Lauren (September 24, 2007). "Mondo Donatella". The New Yorker: 158
- "Cunanan: more questions than answers". CNN. 1997-07-25. Retrieved 2007-06-29.
- Pisa, Nick (December 7, 2010). "Versace murdered because of debts to Mafia". The Telegraph. Retrieved December 7, 2010.
- "Movies and TV: Gianni Versaci: Filmography". Retrieved 11 April 2011. Unknown parameter
- Official website of the Versace company
- Official Versace online store
- Gianni Versace at the Fashion Model Directory
- Google Maps Street View: Gianni Versace's house as seen from Ocean Drive
- Gianni Versace at Find a Grave
- Gianni Versace, an exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (fully available online as PDF)