Versace, Gianni

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Versace, Gianni

Gianni Versace, 1946–97, Italian fashion designer, b. Reggio Calabria. A dressmaker's son, Versace worked for several Italian designers before opening (1978) his own Milan studio in partnership with his brother Santo and sister Donatella. He became famous for designing flashy, sexy, beautifully cut outfits in strikingly extreme colors, patterns, fabrics, and leathers. His fashion empire eventually encompassed men's, women's and children's clothing, accessories, jewelry, perfume, and housewares, included some 130 boutiques worldwide, and had annual sales that exceeded $800 million. Versace merged the worlds of fashion and entertainment; his lavish shows were pop-culture events, and he drew inspiration from contemporary street life, art, and films as well as art and design history. Emminently theatrical, he also designed for the stage, opera, and ballet. He was murdered on the steps of his Miami Beach, Fla., mansion by a fugitive serial killer. His sister succeeded him as his company's chief designer.

See biography by L. Turner (1998); museum catalogs ed. by R. Martin (1998) and V. Claire and M. Wilcox (2002).

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