Glamour And Tragedy. Versace Created A Lifestyle Full Of Sex Appeal, Emancipation And Luxury. He Was Murdered Outside His House.
25 have passed since the assassination of Gianni Versace.
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In 1978, Gianni Versace founded a luxury fashion label in Milan. His life was marked by wealth and luxury, which he had to fight hard for. When he went to buy a newspaper on the morning of 15 July at his favourite News Café in Miami, he never returned home. For waiting for him outside his mansion was a killer who had fired exactly two shots into his head.
Fashion, you know, is dead. Style is on the inside and it persists.
Versace's killer Andrew Cunan was a chronic liar and a genius at the same time. Before Gianni, he had taken the lives of two victims, one of whom he was supposed to have had an intimate relationship with. Conjecture, even after several years, leans towards the theory that he wanted to make a name for himself by murdering Versace. Another version says that the madman Cunan was looking for a culprit for being HIV positive. Versace, however, was never HIV positive and was not in close contact with his killer. According to Maureen Orth, author of The Assassination of Gianni Versace, the pair may have met only briefly in the VIP lounge of the Colossus nightclub.
Both Princess Diana and Elton John attended Versace's funeral. The world loved him "and he didn't deserve such a death," say fans. After the family tragedy, the fashion empire was taken over by sister Donatella, who, in her role as designer and vice-president, ensured that the brand continued to be worn by Naomi Campbell, Madonna, Regina King, Anne Hathaway and other global names.
Due to financial troubles, as of 2018, the Versace fashion house is owned by Capri Holdings, the company once known as Michael Kors Holding Group. Although he remains globally famous today, we can say with great certainty that it was under Gianni Versace's supervision that he had his best years. When Donatella referred to her brother as "the king", she was right. "Versace changed what fashion means. He was the one who put fashion at the centre of a new solar system made up of celebrities and clothes at the centre of popular culture," says The Guardian. Versace was synonymous with revolution, and he took care of that revolution several times over.
The first designer to bring the sex appeal of the street to the runway
He launched his first women's ready-to-wear collection in 1978. It had too much glitz, nudity, sexuality and extravagant patterns. Versace also took the grittiness of street fashion to a whole new level and was among the first to elevate it to the edge of luxury.
Animal and tropical patterns
The iconic Versace logo is the Medusa, inspired by the designer's love of mythology. According to legend, it was Medusa who could make people fall head over heels in love with her. Versace had a similar power.
He loved extravagance, and it's quite possible that you don't associate any other designer name with animal prints quite like Versace. The leopard print combined with leather is iconic. His sister Donatella also likes to return to this pattern in her current work.
Another characteristic of the brand is the tropical pattern. Jennifer Lopez showed off one of her most famous designs, the jungle dress, after its death. The first time was in 2000 at the Grammy Awards and the second time was at the 2020 show.
Ikonic baroque bomber jackets
If Versace had lived between the 17th and 18th centuries, he would surely have said he was in the right place at the right time. For the Baroque was the prevailing style of the period, characterised by its ornate, dramatic and pompous nature. This, too, could be a brief description of Versace's style.
It's good to have a rival in life. It pushes you further.
Versace drew on the sophisticated iconography and colour palettes of the time to create a series of models with baroque prints. The motif was first introduced in the Spring/Summer 1992 collection. Versace lovers probably can't imagine their wardrobe without baroque men's bombers or women's shirts and dresses. Lil' Kim and the Notorious B.I.G. were among the first fans of the trend, and today Beyoncé, the Kardashians, Gigi Hadid and Katy Perry can't afford it either.
Miss S&M collection alluded to women's sexual appetites, encouraged women to emancipate
The designs of this Italian fashion house often work with human sexuality. The women's collection for autumn/winter 1992, Miss S&M, became iconic. The supporting material was leather and metallic appliqués. The silhouette was strikingly reminiscent of dominatrix and sexual costumes. The daring collection divided the public into two camps. In one resided the critics who pointed out the vulgarity, in the other the feminists who proclaimed women's emancipation and the liberation of their own sexuality.
Elizabeth Hurley's iconic "safety pin" dress sparked a wave of criticism
The actress Elizabeth Hurley will probably always be remembered as Versace's icon and muse. For the premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral, she wore an elegant black flowing gown with a plunging neckline at the side of the chest, held together by golden matching pins (colloquially known as safety pins). This look is one of the iconic fashion moments of the 1990s. Hurley reportedly said at the time, in her and Versace's defense, that unlike many other designers, Versace did not suppress but celebrated femininity with his clothes.
Liquid gold or a dress?
One of Versace's most famous innovations from 1982 was a dress with the illusion of liquid metal, which was made of a special material called "oroton". This is a unique metallic fabric similar to netting. It is made up of small interlocking parts that create a shimmering liquid metal effect, perfectly accentuating curves. It is the oroton that has become the hallmark of the Versace fashion house.
Over time, it appeared in several collections and on models of evening or cocktail dresses, suits and jumpsuits, sometimes accessorised with diamonds. As if poetically, it was the oroton that was the highlight of Gianni's last show, where Naomi Campbell showed a model of a wedding dress.
This specific material was also dusted off by Donatella Versace. For example, Kim Kardashian showed off one model at the 2018 Met Gala. Celebrities have fallen in love with the body-hugging fit and the combination of extravagance with a very minimalist cut, as is already customary with Versace.
The first designer to use celebrities as walking advertisements
Versace was among the first to realise the power of celebrities and began to exploit their marketing power in a big way. What Versace was creating, according to the media, was not clothes, but a lifestyle. Thanks to the star clientele who loved to showcase his designs, the Versace brand became synonymous with luxury and the world's elite. According to an article in The Guardian, Versace was the first designer to put celebrities, including Elton John and Madonna, in the front row at a fashion show.
Fashion is a weapon you can use when you need it most.
He boasted that he was the first in the fashion world to show what #SquadGoals really means. Versace has partied with Eltonon, Madonna, Sylvester Stallone and Princess Diana, whom he also dressed. He made stars out of his models. Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell often walked the Versace catwalk. And not always in a sober state.
Versace, Prince and Jon Bon Jovi
He also earned his first place because he connected fashion with music in a way that no designer has ever done before. Both Jon Bon Jovi and Prince posed in his advertising campaigns, which were to provide the designer with unreleased recordings of his songs. These only later appeared on officially released albums. It was in 1995 that the remixes of some of them were to be heard by guests at the presentation of the Versace Atelier in Paris. Later, the original songs appeared on Prince's album The Gold Experience. Prince was said to have been publishing his unreleased works with the fashion house until his death. In fact, the friendship that Gianni began, later continued with Donatella.
Lip sync on the runway
One of Versace's most iconic fashion shows was in 1991, when models Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington paraded down the catwalk singing George Michael's biggest hit, Freedom.
The models creating a colour contrast (two of them dressed in vibrant yellow and red and two in black again) looked like a pop art image. Versace made no secret of the fact that he loved art and liked to translate it into his models.
He allowed the models to express their personality
"I don't think many designers allowed models to express their personalities before Gianni, and actually not even then. Models should wear clothes, be very serious, not smile, look in front of themselves, almost soulless," Donatella Versace told The Guardian, referring to her brother.
In her words, the fashion designer wanted to achieve the opposite and followed the motto that showing off clothes is not just about the clothes themselves, but also about who wears them. He wanted his models to express what they think, present their charisma and show where they hang out and who they date. This made Versace's models even more appealing. He made no secret of the fact that he cast the best top models in his campaigns, as well as the best photographers on the market.
„You can't trust any design: what's not fashionable today is tomorrow. I remember that my mother was always trying in every possible way to cover the bra and the straps. Today, if you can't see the bra, it's not fashion. The change is in our attitude.“
Gianni Versace was not only a megalomaniac who rewrote history with his fashion and attitude to life, but also a man who understood the importance of the future and that nothing is permanent. And as he said himself, that's fashion, it's born every day, it changes every day.
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