Monday, July 15, 2013

Remembering Gianni Versace December 2, 1946 - July 15, 1997

Versace is one of the first names we think of when the word fashion comes to mind.

Gianni Versace began his career in his family's tailor shop in Southern Italy. He was a flamboyant figure and took his family's business to a whole new level of being an international fashion house that produced perfumes, makeup, clothes, and costumes for major theatrical and movie productions along with home furnishings.

Born in Reggio Calabria, Italy, he along with his sister and brother worked alongside his father and mother in a local dress shop.  Along with the everyday details of his family's business, Versace also enjoyed studying architecture.  At the age of 26, he moved to Milan, Italy and began working in fashion design.  He continued to become more noticed for his creativity and individuality in several areas of fashion including leather and suede collections.  His first fashion show featured both men and women's accessories.

He opened his first boutique in 1978 and one of his major influences was artist, Andy Warhol.  He had a couple of business partners who helped him develop an increasingly successful reputation.

Versace developed friendships with celebrities of all kinds including Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Elton John, and George Michael.  He was considered by many to be the most talented designer in the latter part of the 20th century.

His designs have been showcased in several museums and he has received numerous awards over the years for his works.  He has also published several books including "Rock and Royalty" "The Art of Being You" and "Men Without Ties"

On July 15, 1997, the 50 year old Versace was murdered in his Miami, Florida home by 27 year old, Andrew Cunanan that remains a mystery.  Cunanan committed suicide on a boat eight days later.

Gianni Versace was cremated following his death and laid to rest in the Cemetery of Moltrasio (pictured below)  A memorial service was held for Versace in Milan, Italy that was attended by over 2000 people. Among those who attended and took part in his service were Elton John, Sting, Carolyn Bessette (JFK Jr.'s wife), Naomi Campbell, Lady Di and Luciano Pavarotti.  Hundreds more attended a memorial service on July 18, 1997 at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Miami Beach, Florida (photo of funeral programs and book given to all
who attended) on display at the Toland-Herzig Famous Endings Museum.

It is estimated that in less than 10 years, Versace built an empire worth $807 million.

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