The Versace Legacy

Posted: Jul 22 2017

Twenty years ago this month, Gianni Versace was killed on the steps of his mansion in South Beach, Miami.  In one violent moment, a deranged stranger took his life and the world lost one of its most celebrated designers.  However, it is not his death, but his life that people choose to remember.  And what a life it was!

Born in the town of Reggio Calabria in southern Italy, he grew up watching his mother sew beautiful dresses in her studio.  It was then that he fell in love with women’s clothing and began a life-long quest to become the greatest fashion designer of his generation.  From the start, Gianni Versace’s designs were labeled outrageous, trailblazing and controversial.  He believed a woman’s body should be celebrated and each season his designs did just that.  Known for his plunging necklines and sizable thigh slits, his runway was never boring.

Versace’s models were always in the spotlight thanks to his one-of-a-kind creations.  Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Carla Bruni were mainstays on his stage, making each show more memorable than the last.  He also introduced the world to Elizabeth Hurley when he bestowed upon her his infamous “safety pin dress” for the premiere of then-boyfriend Hugh Grant’s movie, Four Weddings and a Funeral.  Needless to say, it made quite an impression and can still be seen in fashion exhibits today.

But, his greatest muse was his younger sister, Donatella.  Always by his side since childhood, she was his constant inspiration, and often times his critic.  She played devil’s advocate to his ideas, always challenging him to be better and more on-trend. It was a true partnership. 

Following his death, Donatella became the Creative Director for Versace and has held the position for the past 20 years.  Under her leadership, the fashion house has seen peaks and valleys.  However, it continued to grow and today has morphed into a brand that resonates with spirited young women.  We can think of no better way to honor Gianni Versace’s legacy than for his fashion house to inspire a new generation to reach for the stars and be all they can be.


Source: Ball, Deborah. House of Versace: The Untold Story of Genius, Murder, and Survival. New York: Crown Publishers, 2010.