Gianni Versace

Death of Gianni Versace

December 2, 1946 - July 15, 1997
Miami Beach, Florida | Age 50

Gianni Versace: man and his clothes were flamboyant dies


Gianni Versace's clothes were the essence of glamour and flamboyance, much like the man himself.

The son of a seamstress, he dressed rock singers and Hollywood stars in tight, revealing outfits like "The Dress" that Elizabeth Hurley wore to the Oscars.

He staged his fashion shows with blaring rock music, glaring flood lights and mega-screens reproducing the runway scene.

"Welcome to the Versace experience," was his motto.

His look often sharply contrasted with the understatement of his Milan rival, Giorgio Armani.

However, he toned down his style in his winter collection in Milan this March: There was lots of black leather, like the kind he was famous for a decade ago, but it caressed rather than grabbed the body.

Glitz was the word for the clothes designed by the 50-year-old native of Reggio Calabria in southern Italy. He liked to speak of his "Mediterranean soul," and his origins came through in his clothes: bright and brassy.

In presenting a punk-inspired line in 1993, he declared: "Classicism is for hypocrites. The future belongs to punk."

Versace also lived big, with fancy homes in Miami, Como in northern Italy, a palace in downtown Milan and an East Side apartment in New York.

Versace, who also designed costumes for the opera stage, in 1993 won the "American Fashion Oscar," given by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

When Versace had a bout with cancer _ a neck tumor _ he spoke openly about it, and rejoiced publicly when it appeared to be in remission. He cut back his public appearances several years ago, but recently returned to the limelight.

He staged a mega-show last month in Florence for his men's collection. But in a typically flamboyant gesture, Versace also brought in one of his favorite models, Naomi Campbell, for a sneak preview of next season's women's line.

Versace's fashion empire was privately held, but there had been talk of him going public.

His survivors include a sister, Donatella, and his brother, Santo, both closely involved in the business.

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