Gianni Versace (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒanni verˈsaːtʃe], born Giovanni Marcus Versace; 2 December 1946 – 15 July 1997) was an Italian fashion designer and founder of Gianni Versace S.p.A., 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, Madonna, Elton John, Cher, Sting and many other celebrities, he was the first designer to link fashion to the music world. 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.
Gianni Marcus 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. An older sister, Fortunata, nicknamed Tinuccia, died at the age of 9 from peritonitis. Alternative source says that this sister was named Tina and died at the age of 12 from an improperly treated tetanus infection.
Versace began his apprenticeship at a young age, as his mother ran a sewing workshop and employed up to a dozen seamstresses. 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 theirleather and lace collections, and a few years later, encouraged by his success, Versace presented his first signaturecollection 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 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 asAncient Roman and Greek art and also abstract art.
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 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 $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.
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.
Versace’s Miami Beach mansion, 2009
Versace was shot dead on 15 July 1997, aged 50, on the steps of his Miami Beachmansion 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`s Beach Police Chief Richard Barreto. Versace’s body was cremated and his ashes returned to the family’s estate near Cernobbio, Italy.
In September 1997, it was announced 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 in 2004.
Born: May 2 1955
When Gianni Versace started his own fashion company in Milan in 1978, Donatella was right there by his side. Their brother, Santo, was also a part of the business. Gianni relied on Donatella for her advice about his designs, and she played an important role in orchestrating many Versace fashion shows and advertising campaigns. She helped bring some rock ‘n’ roll spirit and celebrity cache to the line through her friendships with Madonna and Elizabeth Hurley.
Versace also served as chief designer for the company’s Versus line. She learned even more about the business in the mid-1990s, when Gianni battled cancer. In light of Gianni’s recent health scare, the Versace siblings worked on a company succession plan.
Days after Gianni Versace’s death, Donatella was announced as Versace’s new creative director. By this time, though, she had already taken a leading role in the business. “The last two years of Gianni’s life,” Donatella explained to New York magazine, “I was going up into his apartment, showing him the work, getting the approval from him, but I ran the company because he wasn’t showing himself. It was like a year and a half I did everything.”
Donatella has remained at the helm of the company’s design vision ever since, helping to reinvigorate its product lines over the years. In 2009, she brought in Christopher Kane to design for Versus and reinvent the brand. After his departure, Versace collaborated with other upcoming designers on the line, also revamping the company’s haute couture line Atelier Versace. Today, Versace markets a variety of product lines, from home goods to perfume, clothing and furniture. The company even operates two hotels.
Fashion Show 2014/2015