Are you watching “The Assassination of Gianni Versace”? The second season of FX’s acclaimed American Crime Story brings the assassination of the Italian fashion icon back into the spotlight some 20 years after it shocked the world. The murder is a tragic end to the story of one of the most visionary fashion designers of all time. The Versace style has made a huge impact on the fashion world, and the brand continues to innovate push the boundaries with bold, colorful designs.
Gianni Versace was born in Reggio Calabria, southern Italy, in 1946. In 1978 he founded Versace, six years after he designed his first collections.
He soon became well-known for his bold, colorful, luxurious, often sensual designs.
Some of his most famous pieces include the green dress Jennifer Lopez wore to the 2000 Grammys (yes, THAT dress). The iconic and very revealing dress that Elizabeth Hurley wore in 1994, seemingly held together by safety pins, was also Versace creation.
Many criticized those dresses as being too risque. To quote the designer himself:
“I don’t believe in good taste.”
A lover and collector of pop art, from Andy Warhol to Roy Lichtenstein, Versace was also a fan of the classics, like Picasso to Jasper Johns. In his work you can see the influence of the classical artists, brought to the modern age with surprising and sometimes shocking twists.
To some, his designs were exciting, sensual, and new. To others, they were lewd and vulgar.
Versace blended unconventional materials, patterns and designs with fearless abandon, blazing a new trail in the fashion world. From Catholic imagery to bondage/S+M gear, nothing was off limits. While only the very rich could afford his original designs, his work created a ripple effect throughout the fashion industry that affected all markets. Versace’s success put Italy on the map as a hub of artistic fashion that commanded attention.
Greek mythology played a large role in Gianni Versace’s lifestyle. He grew up in a southern town in Italy that was heavily influenced by Greek colonization.
Instead of the typical image of Medusa that we see – a vicious woman with snakes for hair – the Versace logo has beautiful, flowing, non-venomous strands of hair. This is a version of Medusa before Athena transforms her into a monster who can transform men into stone with a single look. This version emphasizes beauty and power.
According to Donatella Versace, her brother picked this logo because “whoever falls in love with Medusa can’t flee from her.”
Gianni’s goal was always to empower women to feel 100% confident in how they looked and felt. This is a perfect metaphor for the Versace women: the ability to control and overpower a man the moment he lays eyes on her.
In much the same way, when you fall in love with House Versace, you’ll be waiting anxiously to see what it creates next.
The designer met a shocking and tragic end when he was 50 years old.
He was unexpectedly shot to death in front of his Miami home in 1997. He was shot by serial killer Andrew Cunanan, who is the focus of the “Assassination of Gianni Versace” season of American Crime Story.
Cunanan would brag about his close relationship with Gianni, but the Versace family denies that the two ever met.
Versace was Cunanan’s fifth and final victim. There are no definitive reasons for why Cunanan killed Versace. To quote Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Barreto:
“I don’t know what we are ever going to know the answers.”
Cunanan committed suicide eight days after the Versace murder.
Now, his sister Donatella is the brains behind the operation, and the house of Versace remains a closely watched and highly influential fashion house.
Take a look at the following designs and you can clearly see the Versace influence at work. Colorful gradients, classic Grecian patterns on the stems, the Medusa logo, an abundance of gold coloring, and atypical designs.
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How to Pronounce Gianni Versace:
Gianni: The traditional Italian pronunciation of Gianni is two syllables, closer to “Johnny” than “Gee-On-Ee.”
Versace: Closer to “Ver-Sah-Chay” than “Ver-Sah-Chee.” Never “Versayse.” (Our apologies to Nomi Malone.)