Gianni Versace

Born: Reggio Calabria, 1946
Died: Miami, Florida, USA, 1997

Growing up with his older brother Santo and younger sister Donatella, Gianni Versace learned his love for fashion at an early age, from his mothers small tailor shop. He began to design for the shop which led to him gaining extra skills working in fabric procurement. Studying architecture, at 26 he decided to move to Milan to pursue fashion instead, where he started designing for an Italian company Fiori Fiorentini. He followed this by working for De Parisi, Genny and Callaghan, and then Alma and Complice. His designs for Complice included his own name for the Complice brand. Encouraged by his success, Versace designed his own signature women’s wear collection, with a menswear collection shortly following after. In 1978, Versace opened his first boutique in Milan, selling his own label and also other brands to complement his designs. With Versace’s popularity growing, more boutiques started to open, worldwide.

In 1982, Versace met Antonio D’Amico, which began a personal and professional relationship. In 1985, Versace added a diffusion line Instante for a younger, less affluent consumer. Versace’s partner D’Amico, who designed for the company, became head designer for the Instante line. In 1990 Versace hosted his first haute couture show at the Ritz Hotel, Paris, by this time he had 320 outlets globally and his clothes were worn by the worlds celebrities, including Sting, Prince, Eric Clapton, Lady Diana and Elton John, who became a close personal friend.

Supported by his brother Santo, sister and muse Donatella, and her husband Paul Beck, by the nineties Versace had created an empire producing clothes, makeup, fragrances and home furnishings. On 15th July 1997, Gianni was tragically killed in Miami. His sister Donatella Versace took over designing, completing the collection they had been working on together. His brother and Jorge Saud served as the new CEOs and in his will Versace left 50 percent of his company to his niece, Allegra Versace, Donatella’s daughter.

Gianni Versace Biography

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Written by Saxony Dudbridge

Saxony Dudbridge was one of the first contributors to the Catwalk Yourself project, Saxony studies International Fashion Marketing and she is responsible for our great History and Designers Biographies sections.

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