When you think about Versace, what is the first person that comes to your mind? Donatella Versace? That’s very accurate.
However, what if we tell you that someone else should be the person that comes to your mind?
We’re confident you think about Donatella because she is clearly the company’s face despite someone else being the CEO. This is usually because many believe she is also the founder. Well, that’s a grave mistake, and to understand why, we need to go back to the Versace tragedy some people from the new generation since to not know about, while older people tend to forget it.
For starters, Donatella is just someone who inherited part of the brand, and we need to go over the history to know who is the real founder and why we should give him credit.
But besides unveiling this mystery for many, we will also go over the details of the brand, why it is so famous, and why it is worth spending hundreds or thousands even when most people don’t have enough to pay for it.
Getting to Know the Founder: Gianni Versace
As we previously mentioned, we will go back to the tragedy of Versace, but before getting there, we will get to know this man’s life and career before it.
Gianni Versace was born in Reggio Calabria, Italy, on December 2, 1946. His mother Francesca was a dressmaker, and as for his father, there isn’t information about the person or even his name. His siblings, Santo and Donatella Versace, are part of the family.
The young boy was exposed to fashion very early due to his mother and showed interest since then.
Versace was educated at Liceo Classico Tommaso Campanella. He studied Latin and Greek and then began his apprenticeship in his mother’s sewing shop.
He learned the basics of sewing clothing from his mother and was able to work alongside 12 other seamstresses.
At 26 years old, he decided to pursue fashion design as a career, which is why he moved to Milan to work as a designer for Genny’s ready-to-wear label. He was responsible for “Byblos,” a young line, and “Complice,” an experimental line.
Thanks to his talent and great ideas, he enjoyed great success in the previous role.
Not many know about Gianni’s life in his childhood and instead consider it to be quite normal based on what his younger sister, Donatella, mentions on several occasions.
Therefore, there isn’t anything remarkable besides his love for fashion and how much talent he showed since a very young age.
Pursuing a Company: Starting House of Versace
Fashion designers go through a lot of work to finally start their own lines and companies.
However, the hard work and effort are clearly worth it when they achieve the desired results.
For Gianni, it wasn’t any different.
After a successful fashion show featuring his first collection, Versace opened his first boutique at Milan’s Via Della Spiga in 1978.
Versace’s bold and vibrant designs quickly attracted attention because they sharply contrasted the more traditional and neutral designs.
He chose the image of Medusa, the Greek mythological figure who is able to make people fall for her, as his logo and wanted his clothes to have the same effect on people as the figure.
His fashion empire quickly grew by using both of his siblings. Sister Donatella was made vice president and creative director, and brother Santo became president of Versace.
Oroton was one of Versace’s most distinctive fashion innovations. It was a type of light chainmail that he used to make many of his clothing designs.
His work experience as a seamstress in his mother’s business also had an influence on all his designs and innovations.
Versace expanded his empire to include textiles, home furnishings, and jewelry just a few years after he founded the company in 1982.
He launched Atelier Versace in 1989, which was an haute couture brand that produced only high-end designs. He is also credited for introducing the supermodel concept and made even more history while being a standing point in the industry despite his “late” origins in it compared to other designers.
He helped to discover models such as Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista. His marketing campaigns featured celebrities as well as models.
Versace was not only interested in producing his own designs but also costume design for theatre and stage. Given his passion for color and drama, he was well-suited for this job.
He designed costumes for many of the ballets performed at the La Scala Theatre Ballet, Milan. He also designed costumes for five Bejart ballet productions in the 1980s.
In 1990, he worked with San Francisco Opera to create costumes for “Capriccio.” He worked alongside various musicians, including designing the wardrobes for Paul McCartney, Elton John, and other popular artists.
The Loss of a Fashion Genius
Going to the infamous and famous (ironically) part of Gianni’s life, we have reached the time of his death, which reached the TV on a miniseries with nine episodes.
Versace, 50 years old, decided to walk from Miami Beach to pick up the morning paper, although this was a task normally reserved for his assistant.
On July 15, 1997, the incident took place when Versace was walking back up to his mansion when he was shot in the head. He has pronounced dead at the hospital soon after.
The criminal behind his murder was Andrew Cunanan, a serial killer who had previously killed four men.
Cunanan claimed to be obsessed with Versace and were close friends despite Versace’s family’s continuous denial.
Later reports surfaced that they had met at a San Francisco nightclub and possibly could have met again on subsequent occasions. However, the nature of their meeting remains a mystery since Cunanan killed himself eight days after Versace was killed.
Versace was cremated and then buried in a vault in his family near Lake Como, Italy. His funeral took place in Milan Cathedral. More than 2,000 people attended, including Elton John, and Diana, Princess of Wales.
Versace had complete creative control over his fashion empire until his death. This was an unusual feat compared to other luxury brands, and during this time, Versace had 130 boutiques around the globe, and his brand was worth more than $807 million.
The company was planning to launch an Initial Public Offer that would have a valuation of several billion dollars. Unfortunately, his death caused the IPO to be canceled quickly and left the brand in uncertain financial health.
To this date, Michael Kors Holdings had reached a deal with Versace to buy the brand for $2.2 billion on September 25, 2018, which means they have most of the control of the brand despite the distribution in roles inside.
What Is Special About Versace?
For a brand founded in 1978, it was quite popular not long after it was revealed. This is a huge milestone for its designer, considering that many other luxury brands were emerging and others already had a trajectory in the industry.
However, Gianni was unique, and his ideas and designs were something that no one else had made nor could copy after he introduced them.
In fact, we already gave you a spoiler of why the brand is so popular: the Greek influence in his designs.
It isn’t about the mythology in particular but rather the features of sensuality and sexuality lacking in many other brands.
Women loved to wear any of his collections because they made them feel like they could conquer the world on heels while showing how hot they are.
This concept continues to be the epitome of the brand regardless of its fall since Donatella took the lead in the design department.
Despite being sensual and, for some people, “vulgar,” Gianni’s designs were sophisticated and elegant.
Bondage gear, polyvinyl, chloride baby doll dresses, and silver-mesh togas are part of the signature designs.
It is possible to say that Versace introduced what we know as sexy and sensual nowadays along with its glamorous creations and stunning theatrical costumes, and that’s not all, menswear also showed to be more than just innovative, and it was all thanks to the incredible Gianni that we were unfortunate to lose so early.
Buying a Versace: Prices & Revenue
We are guilty. Yes, we have at least one piece of Versace, and we regret nothing about not eating for weeks to be able to pay for them.
Unlike most luxury brands that started, Versace brought great concepts for both men and women simultaneously, and people just couldn’t resist falling prey to such stunning designs, including us.
Not for nothing, Versace was worth $807 at the time of Gianni’s death. Although it has suffered over the last two decades due to the different vision of his sister, Donatella, the brand continues to stand strong after overcoming almost bankrupt.
Right now, in 2021, the brand is worth $5 billion, and it is expected to grow in revenue and value over the next six months.
After knowing how much the company is worth, we can talk about prices and why we had to stop eating to buy even a piece (still not regretting it).
We will include a list with prices of the collections, but the ranges will be an average and can vary depending on the item, trend, and specific discounts at the moment you deciding to buy:
- Womenswear: dresses, shirts, pants, shorts, underwear, and more, start at $50 and go up to $5.000.
- Menswear: jackets, shirts, underwear, pants, shorts, swimwear, and more go from $50 to $4.750.
- Children’s collection: start at $60 and goes up to $2.500.
- Home collection: from $60 to $6.700 and includes towels, bathrobe, blankets, and more.
- Shoes: usually start at $300 and go up to $1.500 for both men and women.
- Accessories: belts, wallets, purses, and more for both men and women, ranging from $85 to $2.000 (this includes fragrances of 50ml).
Versace has an Atelier collection that includes bridal, crafted designs, and special collections. This could be considered the most luxurious part of the company.
Prices aren’t disclosed for the latter unless you request a quote based on the designs of the website.
Dressed with Style: Celebrities & Versace
If Gianni loved something after clothes and designing, it was definitely interacting with celebrities and artists.
It isn’t a secret for anyone, and we even mentioned before that he loved to invite them to his shows and include them on the runway.
As a result, you will notice dozens of celebrities wearing his collections and the most recent ones designed for his sister.
Some endorsements are also for celebrities you probably love, like Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Gigi Hadid, Kanye West, Jessica Alba, and many more.
Of course, when it comes to who loves to use Versace on the red carpet or any special event, the list of celebrities just continues to grow. It keeps going for a while: Lizzo, Paris Jackson, Blake Lively, Katy Perry, Camila Cabello, Bruno Mars, Rihanna, and so on.
The truth is that if we were celebrities or able to pay for any of the Atelier pieces, we would do it without thinking.
Many people, however, do wear Versace every day and love using the collections to define their own styles.
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