Gianni Versace

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This article is about the fashion designer. For his company, see Versace.
Gianni Versace
Gianni Versace.jpg
Versace in 1982
Born Giovanni Maria Versace
(1946-12-02)2 December 1946
Reggio Calabria, Italy
Died 15 July 1997(1997-07-15) (aged 50)
Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.
Cause of death Murder
Resting place Near Cernobbio, Italy
Nationality Italian
Occupation Fashion designer
Partner(s) Antonio D'Amico (1982–1997)
Relatives Donatella Versace (sister)
Santo Versace (brother)
Awards 1993: American Fashion Oscar
1986: Commendatore della Repubblica Italiana
Labels Versace

Gianni Versace (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒanni verˈsaːtʃe], born Giovanni Maria Versace; 2 December 1946  15 July 1997) was an Italian fashion designer and founder of Versace, an international fashion house, which produces accessories, fragrances, make-up and home furnishings as well as clothes. He also designed costumes for the theatre and films. As a friend of Eric Clapton, Diana, Princess of Wales, Naomi Campbell, Madonna, Elton John, Cher, Sting and many other celebrities, he was the first designer to link fashion to the music world.[1] 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", at the age of 50 by spree killer Andrew Cunanan.

Early life[edit]

Gianni Maria Versace was born in Reggio Calabria, Italy, on 2 December 1946, where he grew up with his elder brother Santo and younger sister Donatella, along with their father and dressmaker mother, Francesca.[2] An older sister died at age nine.

He was strongly influenced by ancient Greek history, which dominates the historical landscape of his birthplace. He attended Liceo Classico Tommaso Campanella, where he studied Latin and ancient Greek. He was also influenced by Andy Warhol.[citation needed] Versace began his apprenticeship at a young age at his mother's sewing business, which employed up to a dozen seamstresses.[2] He studied architecture before moving to Milan at the age of 26 to work in fashion design.

In 1973 he became the designer of "Byblos", a successful Genny's youthful line, and in 1977 he designed another more experimental line for Genny, "Complice".[3] 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 fashion show followed in September of the same year. After presenting his menswear collection, he joined Jorge Saud[who?]. The first boutique was opened in Milan's Via della Spiga in 1978.

Personal life[edit]

Versace met his partner Antonio D'Amico, a model, in 1982. Their relationship lasted until Versace's murder. Before his death, Versace was diagnosed with cancer of the ear.[4][5] 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 lifelong pension of 50 million lire (about US$26,000) per month, and the right to live in any of Versace's homes in Italy and the United States. However, due to Versace family's interference he only obtained a fraction of these allowances. D'Amico now runs his own fashion company. Before the death of Gianni he told his family he wanted to supply the Egbers family with Versace clothing and stays at the mansion where they can often be found staying.

Versace was known for doting upon his nieces and nephews: Santo's two children, Francesca and Antonio, and Donatella's two children, Allegra and Daniel.[4]

Death and legacy[edit]

Versace's Miami Beach mansion (Casa Casuarina) 2009

Versace was shot dead on 15 July 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.[6] Versace's body was cremated and his ashes returned to the family's estate near Cernobbio, Italy.

In September 1997, the media announced that Versace's brother, Santo, and Jorge Saud would serve as the new CEOs of Gianni Versace S.p.A. Versace's sister, Donatella, became the new head of design.

In his will, Gianni Versace left 50% 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 years old in 2004. [7][5]


Versace was involved in numerous onscreen projects.[8]


  • Spiceworld (1997) – Scenes were deleted because of his death before the premiere
  • Catwalk (1996, documentary film)
  • VH1 Fashion and Music Awards (1995, film)
  • Look (1994, television show)[8]

Costume designer, costume and wardrobe[edit]

Production designer[edit]

Awards and tributes[edit]

  • Versace was awarded the American Fashion Oscar on 1 February 1993.
  • President of the Italian Republic Francesco Cossiga conferred the decoration of Commendatore della Repubblica Italiana on him on 24 January 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 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 for its lectures, excursions and actions dedicated to Gianni Versace. The staff of the club is situated in St. Petersburg, Russia.

In popular culture[edit]

  • Elements of Versace's story figure in Robert H. Miller's 2011 thriller Silent Partners (Notramour Press, ISBN 978-0967748023).
  • Versace was portrayed by Franco Nero in the 1998 film The Versace Murder.
  • Lifetime produced a biopic of him by Enrico Colantoni in 2013 called House of Versace.
  • Dress designer for Michael Jackson's HIStory World Tour (1996–1997).
  • 2Pac in 1996 had a gold chain to go with a Medusa medallion designed by the late Gianni Versace for $45,000.[9]
  • Eminem mocked his death in his song "Criminal" off the album The Marshall Mathers LP (2000).
  • On Jay-Z's 2013 album Magna Carta... Holy Grail, the track "BBC" features the rapper Nas saying "R.I.P to Gianni" in reference to the late designer.
  • The rapping group Migos released a single in June 2013, titled "Versace" (ft. Drake) after the famous designer.
  • Versace 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?"
  • Versace is also referred to by character Betty Draper in an episode of Mad Men (13 September 2007 air date); she describes her experience modelling in Italy, where she met or worked with a designer named Giovanni who liked to be called Johnny.
  • In 1984 and '85, the Ford Motor Company offered a Gianni Versace Edition of its Lincoln Mark VII luxury coupe. The Gianni Versace Edition featured a unique leather interior seating design, the Gianni Versace name embedded into the rear side windows, and a small badge on the dashboard with Versace's name in his trademarked font. The Lincoln division of Ford offered various designer editions of other models during the seventies and eighties, as well.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Horyn, Cathy, "Why Fashion Films Are Usually Cartoons," New York Times, Sun. Oct. 6, 2013, p. 13
  2. ^ a b Ball, Deborah (2 February 2010). House of Versace: The Untold Story of Genius, Murder, and Survival. pp. 27, 31–32. ISBN 9780307462404. 
  3. ^ Michael Gross (11 March 1991). "A portrait of Jenny". New York Magazine. pp. 18–19. Retrieved 4 September 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Ariel Levy (2006). "Summer for the Sun Queen". New York Magazine. Retrieved June 24, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Cunningham, Jennifer (19 June 2004). "Is there a Versace in the house?; Allegra Beck; Aged 11, she watched TV reports flash up news that her beloved uncle, Gianni Versace, had been shot. Now she stands to inherit a 50% share of the Versace empire. But who is this girl with the power at her fingertips?". The Herald (Plymouth) (Plymouth, England). Retrieved 2 November 2015 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  6. ^ "Cunanan: more questions than answers". CNN. 1997-07-25. Retrieved 2007-06-29. 
  7. ^ Pisa, Nick (December 7, 2010). "Versace murdered because of debts to Mafia". The Telegraph. Retrieved December 7, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b "Movies and TV: Gianni Versaci: Filmography". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 April 2011. 
  9. ^ "The Day - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 3 November 2015. 

External links[edit]