The legacy of Gianni Versace: 20 years on
There are few people within this world that have left a mark quite like Gianni Versace. During his life time he changed the face of the fashion industry and redefined glamour. Twenty years since his tragic death, his legacy lives on.
After working with his mother as a seamstress and studying architecture, he moved to Milan from Reggio Calabria on the tip of Italy’s boot, working for a variety of fashion labels such as Complice and Genny. Staging his first show in Milan in 1978, Versace quickly became known for his flashy edge.
Inspired heavily by Greek mythology – his home region is known as “Great Greece” – the Versace logo is recognised worldwide, featuring the Medusa head surrounded by Greek keys. Usually plated within a bright gold, the emblem represents everything that is quintessentially Versace: bold, brash and glamorous.
Versace exploded on to the couture scene in 1989 when French fashion shows still had a narrator calling out a number and reference for each dress, attended by rich socialites. He took the rule book and threw it out the window, reinventing the concept of the fashion show and turning it into a spectacle. He understood that only high-fashion supermodels could facilitate the glam-fest his clothing longed for and packed out his catwalks with the biggest names in the game, such as Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista. Audiences were similarly filled with the crème de la crème of celebrities, with Versace counting Prince, Elton John and Madonna as close friends, he created a fashion show in the true sense of the words.
Versace understood the physique of a woman like no other, creating clothes that perfectly sculpted every curve with cuts that accentuated the sexual nature of the female being. That dress has been credited by Elizabeth Hurley as launching her career – the iconic safety-pinned dress even has its own Wikipedia page.
His tragic death caused hysteria worldwide with his emotional funeral attended by dear friends such as Princess Diana, just six weeks before her own death. His sister, Donatella, created the ultimate homage to her brother at the Versace SS18 show this year in a breath taking finale, encapsulating everything that Gianni promoted.
Twenty years later, his impact upon the fashion industry and wider communities is indisputable and he is considered by many to be a true innovator. He changed the role of celebrity and simultaneously the depiction and portrayal of female sexuality for the masses.
Gianni Versace was, and will remain forever, one of fashion’s true rock stars.