The brief history of the Italian Fashion House that we still debate
the pronunciation of
The brand Versace was the brainchild of Gianni Versace which came to live
back in 1978. During Gianni’s reign as the head of the royal family of Italian
fashion, he formed the distinct image of the celebrated brand. Versace made it
his brand philosophy to empower the woman- chiefly through designs that
had bright flamboyant textiles, sleek and sexual cuts of fabric, and most of all
which he beheld in his designs was being able to make “a woman feel
confident and sexy”.
The inspirations for his designs primarily came from ample Italian artworks
and theatre decors. It’s not come as a surprise that Gianni’s infatuation with
the world of fashion started at an early age. Young Versace would help his
mother find precious stones that he would help embroider into dresses his
mother designed. He studied classical architecture before moving to Milan to
start a career in fashion design, in the mid 1970s. The influence of the Ancient
Greek and Roman architectural styles that Gianni studied about as a young
man certainly constituted the identity of his fashion brand. His passion for
Greek Mythology is noticeable not just from the Medusa inspired trademark
but is also expressed in numerous of his collections. The connections to him
having this for a logo is very interesting as it accurately describes what his
work is all about. The medusa head is some what symbolizing the
empowerment of women, coincidentally Versace openly expressed his love for
his biggest muse – his sister Donna.
Time line of Versace:
1978- Gianni Versace presents his first women’s collection in Milan under
the name Gianni Versace Donna. The first boutique is opened in Milan’s
Via Della Spiga.
1982- Versace’s ‘Orton’ material – a metal chain-mail invented by Versace –
is launched in his collection presented at the Paris Opera.
The same year, Gianni Versace also begins his ongoing collaboration with La
Scala Theatre, Milan, designing costumes for a ballet production.
Since then Versace has designed for several Italian theatre and ballet
productions, even being awarded with the Silver Mask Award for his
contribution to theatre.
1985- Gianni Versace’s first exhibition in the UK is held at the Victoria and
1989- Versace launches its first Haute Couture collection in Paris and opens
1991- ‘Supermodel Phenomenon’ is born after Versace’s decision to send all
the top models of the time down the catwalk for his 1991/1992 collections for
the Autumn/Winter season.
The big four: Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, and
Christy Turlington strutted arm in arm down the runway, mouthing the lyrics
to “Freedom! ’90” as they went.
1994- Versace steals the spotlight once again, when Elizabeth Hurley wore
the infamous safety pin dress to the movie premiere ‘Four Weddings and a
The same year Versace Fine Jewelry Line is launched.
1997- Gianni Versace is shot just outside his Miami mansion on July 15.
He was killed by Andrew Cunanan, a serial killer who is rumoured to have
become obsessed with Versace. After following the designer for months,
Cunnan ultimately shot him outside the gate to the estate, and took his own
Gianni’s sister Donatella, is named Creative Director of the Versace Group.
After his tragic death, his younger sister, Donatella Versace, took over as
creative director, she will go on to describe this time as “the darkest period my
life”. Despite her lack of education in fashion design (formerly only directing
some of the brand’s ad campaigns and inspiring her brother’s designs),
Donatella was able to maintain Versace’s prestige, for over twenty years now.
While some have denounced the brand’s artistic direction after Gianni’s
passing many fashion critics have said that she added a flare that only “a
divine female” can.
After all, Gianni continually emphasised that the secret behind Versace’s
success was to empower the woman.