- The Origin
- The Beginning of Versace
- Gianni’s Style
- Collaboration With The Arts
- Gianni Versace’s Death
- The Brand Re-Launched
- Brand Development
- Collaboration With H&M
- Current Situation
Gianni Versace (1946-1997) was one of the greatest Italian designers, founder of the company of the same name, Gianni Versace SpA. Born in Reggio Calabria in 1946, Gianni Versace took his first steps in the world of fashion, helping his mother, a dressmaker, owner of a clothing store that, in addition to selling ready-made models, produced its own line. In 1972, a trip to Milan opened the doors of the industry when, called by Ezio Nicosia and Salvatore Chiodini, to collaborate in a collection for Florentine Flowers. His creations were a success and his name began to turn among the insiders, allowing him to continue working in the Lombard capital. He designed for De Parisini, Callaghan, Genny and Alma companies.
In 1976, with the help of his accountant brother Santo, he founded the company that bears his name and the first women’s collection was presented two years later, at the Palazzo della Permanente. Gianni Versace’s success was instantaneous. A style immediately applauded by the international press, enthusiastic about his clothes full of genre contaminations, paves the way for him.
Also, the brand contributed to the birth of the phenomenon of supermodels: Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, and Christy Turlington. Gianni was the first to bring out the character of the models as well as enhance their beauty. At this time, the Versace model was transformed. She is no longer a model but a role model, she has personality and embodies an ideal to be achieved, for all women.
In the meantime, his sister Donatella, Gianni’s muse and advisor, had also joined the company. Initially she took care of the public relations and brand communication, collaborating in the creation of important advertising campaigns with Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts, Bruce Weber and Steven Meisel. But, above all, the most memorable shots were with the photographer Richard Avedon. He exalted the image of the fashion house in the world fashion firmament; a partnership that lasted for several seasons and which will wrote many pages of the history of communication. Subsequently, Donatella became creative director of the young Versus line.
Versace was able to mix with ease the contemporary languages of pop art with elements of Greek culture (hence the logo of the Medusa inspired by Greco-Roman iconography), alternating Renaissance and Baroque motifs with precious embroidery and psychedelic colors.
The success of the maison conquered the whole world, even the United States, where the ultra modern and extravagant style was increasingly appreciated. All the Eighties and the beginning of the Nineties were characterized by the territorial expansion of the brand and by very successful collections that built the empire still standing.
The fashion shows presented iconic pieces from the era, including very tight and colorful fuseaux with inlays, dresses in meshes of metal fibers, silks with geometric patterns, jackets with prints of pop culture icons. Versace risked a lot in presenting such a daring and avant-garde fashion, but made every garment and treated it as a work of art and as a result was always rewarded by both the public and the critics.
Besides being a great collector, Gianni also worked in close contact with the world of theater, opera and ballet. His long collaboration with the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, which was very important, began in 1982. Gianni created the costumes of the ballet Josephlegende (by Richard Strauss, directed by Luigi Veronesi) and continued to create for many other performances by great choreographers and directors such as as Maurice Béjart, Robert Wilson, Rolant Petit, John Cox, William Forsythe and Twyla Tharp. There were many celebrities that boasted friendship with Gianni Versace, including Lady Diana, his friend and confidant, the singer Elton John, for which in 1992 he designed the cover of the album as well as all the costumes of his World Tour, and the top model Naomi Campbell.
Gianni was the owner of immense villas scattered around the world, and he loved to furnish them with contemporary works of art, imperial furniture and Greek-Roman statues. He was also one of the first designers to launch a line for the home: the Versace Home Collection that will include furnishings, furnishing accessories, lamps, linens, tiles, porcelains and crystals.
The tragedy occurred on July 15, 1997. Gianni Versace is murdered on the steps of Casa Casuarina, in Miami, shot. The murder shocked the whole world raising many doubts and questions about the motive of the murder, which is still unclear. The killer, Andrew Cunanan, was found dead a few days later. It was a blow to the Medusa, for his family, but also for the whole Italian fashion system that will suddenly lose one of its biggest points of reference.
After Gianni’s death, the creative direction was handed over to his sister Donatella who inherited 20% of the company’s value and was also the charismatic new face of the fashion house. 30% will go to Brother Santo, president and then CEO. The majority of the stock (50%), for a value then estimated at $700 million, will go to the beloved nephew Allegra, daughter of Donatella and Paul Beck.
The death of the founder does not open an easy time for the company which saw its business in decline right at the turn of the new millennium. At the end of 2000 the new company structure was outlined, focused on a holding company and two subsidiaries; the same year a long-term agreement was signed with Euroitalia, for perfumes and cosmetics. For several years the company had difficulty competing with the glories of the past. Multiple managers alternated at the top of the administration, until 2004, when the company found stability with Giancarlo Di Risio, who was ready to start the company reorganization by relaunching the brand.
Advertising investments were enhanced, which involved more and more celebrities from the world of cinema and music. For Donatella, a famous testimonial communicates the character of a collection more easily and quickly. Celebrities who posed for advertising campaigns worldwide includes; Madonna, Demi Moore, Christina Aguilera, Halle Berry, Patrick Dempsey.
There was a lot of focus on upgrading the prêt-à-porter line, enlisting the two new fashion designers Warren Davis and Kinder Aguggini, respectively for the men’s line and the younger line. Also, Versace activated ambitious expansion policies in transversal luxury projects, diversifying its business with interior design and furnishing for private jets, yachts and helicopters.
It will also strengthen its territorial presence in the Far East with strategic agreements and acquisitions for a chain of Versace Luxury Hotels; the first of these opened in 2000 on the Australian Gold Coast, followed by another in Dubai. In 2006 the Versace Theater was inaugurated in Milan, a multifunctional space that also served as a location for future fashion shows. The following year is the tenth anniversary of Gianni’s death, which is remembered with a ballet by Maurice Béjart, presented at the Scala in Milan. Also, the biography The myth Versace (Dalai editore) is also published and a special scholarship is established that bears his name, in collaboration with the European Institute of Design.
Since 2008, while the collections received increasing support, the group announced an important expansion plan in Asia, which took shape in the following years with the opening of several stores in China. In 2010 more than 20 single-brand stores were presented in the “Asian giant” with excellent sales performance and further expansion forecasts. From 2009, Gian Giacomo Ferraris, took over from Giancarlo Di Risio, in the role of managing director. Gian Giacomo Ferraris cut costs, revised the network of direct shops and reduced investments. At this time, the brand officially announced the passage of the license of Versus from Ittierre to the Facchini group, which took charge of the production of clothing and accessories of the young line.
In 2010 there will be an increase in revenues that exceed the ceiling of €292.3 million, up 9.1% compared to the previous year. After the international crisis, a plan to reconquer Japan was planned, which in 2009 saw the closure of its three single-brand stores. Hiroshi Saito was appointed as chief executive officer of Versace Japan and opened new stores as well as additional points of sale to reinforce the presence of the brand in the area.
In 2011 important collaborations of media impact were signed. In June the partnership between the fashion house Versace and the Swedish clothing giant H & M was announced. Starting from November, the clothing chain would sell 40 women’s and men’s 20 pieces, including several accessories, for a low-cost, strictly limited edition line, signed by Donatella. A way to bring the Versace world closer to a younger and wider audience. There was the most iconic pieces of the whole Versace, but also what the fashion house represents today in its continuous evolution. There were famous prints, lots of leather and studs because Versace is sexy and glamorous but also rock’n’roll.
Starting from July 1, 2011, Versace gave life to another collaboration with a strong media echo, announcing that it will wear the International Football Club of Milan. The agreement is signed between the fashion house and the Nerazzurri company, with the supply of official uniforms for managers, coaches, technical staff and players.
Versace in now owned and managed by the family (50% Allegra Beck Versace, 30% Santo Versace, 20% Donatella Versace). Currently, Santo Versace is president of the group’s board of directors and Donatella is creative director as well as vice president of the board of directors. The company creates, produces and distributes luxury and lifestyle products including the Haute Couture Atelier Versace range, ready-to-wear collections, accessories, jewelry, watches, eyewear, fragrances and home furnishings and the second Versus line.
Today the Gianni Versace S.p.A. It is one of the most prestigious names in the international fashion luxury scene. The brand distributes its products through a network of 110 boutiques present in the main cities of the world, plus the 123 shop in shops dedicated in the main department stores and multi-brand stores.