Gianni Versace was born in 1946 in Reggio, Calabria, in Southern Italy. Versace received his love of fashion and first lessons on dress-making from his mother.
Initially Versace trained as an architect, but soon he followed his mother into the fashion business. Versace worked for a number of top Italian fashion houses, but in 1978 with the help of his brother Santo he launched his own label.
Versace was a great fashion pioneer who combined the worlds of high style and pop culture. He was a charismatic and accomplished designer of clothing and theater costumes.
Versace appreciated a range of historic attire which he incorporated into his designs and he was greatly influenced by Andy Warhol and modern abstract art.
Wowzer! Best describes the fashions designed by Gianni Versace. He was notorious for designing garments that would shock and startle our senses. Versace saw his designing as an art form. He initiated clothing that was visually excessive and provocative- fashions that confronted accepted codes of taste, beauty and sexuality.
Fashion became entertainment, to be watched and admired – not simply worn. For Versace nothing was too extravagant too crazy or too risque. Yet no matter how extravagant or provocative Versace's clothes were always strikingly well designed garments designed to flatter the body.
Versace was the designer of choice for many of the rich and famous: pop stars such as Elton John, and Madonna; film stars such as Will Smith, and Elizabeth Hurley and even royalty – Princess Diana.
The wealthy were drawn to his clothes like magnets, and that enhanced his reputation. However, Vercasse did not design simply for the wealthy his clothes were very much available to the average person.
In 1985 he launched the Istante label in 1985; and after years as Gianni's muse, his sister Donatella became his co-designer and launched the Versace diffusion range, Versus, in 1989.
These labels featured clothes within the budgets of many consumers; not only were they priced lower than the custom-made clothes, but they were also aimed at younger markets.
In 1988 Versace received the Cutty Sark Award as "the most innovative and creative designer in the world"; and in 1993 the Council of Fashion Designers of America awarded him the American fashion Oscar.
On July 15, 1997 Versace was shot to death outside his South Beach home in Miami, Florida by a crazed gunman name Andrew Cunanan. Since his untimely death in 1997 the Versace fashion house continues to grow under the creative leadership of his sister Donatella and the business acumen of his brother Santo. Donatella's daughter Allegra inherited 50% of the company last summer when she turned 18. However, Donatella is still very much in charge.
The days of the wet-look, shocking pink PVC and as much flash and flesh as a catwalk can take are long gone. The new Versace is growing up. "I'm not blind," says Donatella. "I know that most women don't look like models.
We had to start addressing other parts of a woman's life. The fashion business is a very different place from when Gianni started the label. "Donatella's mind is very much on the continued success of Versace.
With Donatella at the helm, and Santo and Allegra at her side, they continue to grow and develop the Versace Product Lines with fabulous designs unveiled for the 2005 Spring Season. The proof is in the Versace spring fashion line – Have a look for yourself!