Gianni Versace (December 2, 1946 – July 15, 1997) was an accomplished Italian designer of both clothing and theater costumes. He was influenced by Andy Warhol, Ancient Roman and Greek art as well as modern abstract art; he is considered one of the most colorful and talented designers of the late 20th century.
Gianni was the founder of famous fashion tag Versace. The first boutique was opened in Milan's Via della Spiga in 1978, and its popularity was immediate. Today, Versace is one of the world's leading international fashion houses. Versace designs, markets and distributes luxury clothing, accessories, fragrances, makeup and home furnishings under the various brands of the Versace Group.
Gianni Versace was born in Reggio di Calabria, Italy, where he grew up with his older brother Santo and younger sister Donatella, along with their father and dressmaker mother, Francesca. Gianni 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 Milan at the age of 25 to work in fashion design.
In the mid-Seventies, 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 become later, also partner with Giorgio Armani.
Gianni Versace met Antonio D'Amico, a model, in 1982. The couple embarked on a long-term relationship that lasted 11 years, until Versace's untimely death. During that time Antonio worked as designer for the Versace sports line. Versace's will left his male partner 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 States. D'Amico now runs his own fashion design company.
One July morning in the summer of 1997, returning from his customary walk on Ocean Drive, Versace was gunned down outside his ocean-front mansion in Miami Beach, Florida. He was murdered by spree killer Andrew Cunanan, who committed suicide shortly after the murder. Police reported that Andrew Cunanan had committed suicide using the same handgun that had been used to murder Gianni Versace. Versace was buried in Lake Como, Italy. In September 1997, Versace's brother Santo Versace, together with Jorge Saud were announced as the new CEOs of the Versace holding. Gianni's sister, Donatella Versace, is the new head of design. Elton John dedicated his 1997 album The Big Picture to Versace.