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Gianni Versace (December 2, 1946 – July 15, 1997) was an Italian fashion designer and founder of Gianni Versace S.p.A., an international fashion house, which produces accessories, fragrances, makeup and home furnishings as well as clothes. He also designed costumes for the theatre and films, and was a friend of Elton John, Sting, and Princess Diana among many others. Openly gay, Versace and his companion Antonio D'Amico were regulars on the international party scene. Versace was murdered outside his Miamimarker home at the age of 50 by spree killer Andrew Cunanan.

Early life

Gianni Versace was born in Reggio di Calabriamarker, Italymarker, on December 2, 1946, where he grew up with his older brother Santo and younger sister Donatella, along with their father and dressmaker mother, Francesca. An older sister, Tina, died at the age of 12 from an improperly treated tetanus infection.

Versace began his apprenticeship at a young age, helping his mother find precious stones and gold braid with which to embroider dresses. He studied architecture before moving to Milanmarker at the age of 26 to work in fashion design.

In the mid-1970s, his knits drew the attention of head-hunters at Genny and Callaghan. Complice hired him to design their leather and suede collections, and a few years later, encouraged by his success, Versace presented his first signature collection for women at the Palazzo della Permanente Art Museum of Milan. His first menswear collection 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, Ancient Roman and Greekmarker art as well as modern abstract art.

Personal life

Versace met his partner Antonio D'Amico, a model, in 1982. The couple embarked on a long-term relationship that lasted 15 years, until Versace's murder. 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 pension of 50 million lire (about $26,000) a month (for life), and the right to live in any of Versace's homes in Italy and the United Statesmarker. 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 Versace, and Donatella's two children, Allegra and Daniel Versace.

Death and legacy

Versace was shot dead on July 15, 1997, aged 50, on the steps of his Miami Beachmarker mansion as he returned from a morning walk on Ocean Drivemarker. It was his custom to take a stroll to a coffee shop that received international periodicals, to read the Italian-language newspapers. He was murdered by Andrew Cunanan, who used the same gun to commit suicide on a boat several days later. Versace's body was cremated and his ashes returned to the family's estate near Cernobbiomarker, Italymarker.

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 percent of his fashion empire to his niece Allegra Versace, daughter of Donatella. Her younger brother, Daniel, inherited Versace's rare artwork collection. Allegra inherited this stake, worth around half a billion dollars, when she turned 18 in 2004. She has the final say in the Versace clothing line.


Costume designer

  • Ballet for tino (1997)
  • Judge Dredd (1995)
  • Shakespeare Shorts (1996, TV series)
  • Showgirls (1995)
  • Kika (1993)
  • Vacanze di Natale (also known as Christmas Vacations, 1991)
  • Cin cin (also known as A Fine Romance, 1991)
  • As Long as It's Love (1989)
  • Miami Vice (1989, TV series)


  • Catwalk (1996)
  • Spiceworld (1997) - Scenes were deleted because of his death before the premiere.

Awards and tributes

  • Versace was awarded the American Fashion Oscar on February 1, 1993.
  • President of the Italian Republic Francesco Cossiga, conferred the decoration of Commendatore della Repubblica Italiana on him on January 24, 1986.
  • Elton John dedicated his 1997 album The Big Picture to Versace.
  • In July 2007, a specially written ballet was performed in La Scalamarker, Milanmarker, Italy to mark the 10th anniversary of the fashion designer's death. Thanks Gianni, With Love was put together by Frenchmarker choreographer Maurice Bejart, for whom Versace designed many stage costumes.

Notes and references

External links

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