Versace is an Italian brand, founded in 1978 by Gianni Versace and today leaded by his sister Donatella. It’s currently property of Capri Holdings.
Baroque clothes.


  1. The Origins
  2. The Beginning of Versace with Santo Versace
  3. Gianni Versace’s Style
  4. Versace: an international success
  5. Collaboration with the Arts
  6. Gianni Versace’s tragic Death
  7. The Brand Relaunched
  8. Palazzo Versace
  9. Brand Development
  10. Collaboration With H&M
  11. Current Situation
  12. The partnership with Fendi: Fendace

The Origins

Versace is an Italian company founded in 1978. Gianni Versace s.r.l. is among the main fashion and design houses. Under Donatella Versace’s Artistic Direction since 1997, the maison designs, produces, distributes and sells fashion and lifestyle goods, such as high fashion, men and women prêt-à-porter, jewels, watches, accessories, fragrances and furnitures.

The Gianni Versace s.r.l. is part of the Capri Holdings Limited, a worldwide renowned group in the luxury world.

Gianni Versace (1946-1997) was one of the greatest Italian designers, founder of the company of the same name, Gianni Versace s.r.l. 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 him the doors of the industry when, called by Ezio Nicosia and Salvatore Chiodini, collaborated 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.

The Beginning of Versace with Santo Versace

Donatella and Gianni

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. Santo Versace (1944) graduated in Economics and Business in 1968 and in 1972 started working for his brother Gianni. In 1976 he moved to Milan to work full-time in the family company: the next year the Gianni Versace S.p.A. is founded and Santo becomes its CEO, with a 35% share.

Santo performed a main role in the leadership of the maison, managing organization, distribution and financial resources. In 1992 he is among the founders of Altagamma (Associazione delle imprese Italiane di alta gamma), which he still leads, while from 1998 to 1999 he leaded the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana. In 2008, as part of the Popolo della Libertà list, he was elected at Camera dei Deputati, in Calabria.

Versace: an international success

Gianni’s success was immediate. His style was immediately applauded from international press, who was enthusiastic because of his clothes riches in genre influences.

Also, the brand contributed to the birth of the phenomenon of top models: 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 was no more a model but a role model: she had personality and embodied an ideal to be achieved, for all women.

In the meantime, his sister Donatella, Gianni’s muse and advisor, also joined the company. At first 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 lasted for several seasons which wrote many pages of the history of communication. Subsequently, Donatella became creative director of the young Versus line. 

Gianni Versace’s Style

Gianni Versace's style

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 he was always rewarded by both the public and the critics.

Collaboration with the Arts

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, whom in 1992 he designed the cover of the album for, 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, which he loved to furnish 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 furnitures, furnishing accessories, lamps, linens, tiles, porcelains and crystals.

Gianni Versace’s tragic Death

The tragedy occurred on July 15, 1997. Gianni was shot on the steps of Casa Casuarina, in Miami. The murder shocked the whole world, raising many doubts and questions about the reason of the murder, which is still unclear. The killer, Andrew Cunanan, was found dead a few days later. It was a blow for the Medusa, for his family, but also for the whole Italian fashion system that will suddenly lost 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.

Donatella still leads the brand as Chief Creative Officer. This was the natural development for Donatella, who in the past collaborated with his brother Gianni and in some of the most iconic advertising campaigns realized by the fashion house. Furthermore, she had been directing the Versus line since the end of Eighties. 

The Brand Relaunched

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, involving 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 included Madonna, Demi Moore, Christina Aguilera, Halle Berry, Patrick Dempsey.

Campagna pubblicitaria “Madonna for Versace”, 1995.
“Madonna for Versace”, 1995.

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. Versace also 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. 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.

Palazzo Versace

In September 2000 Versace inaugurated the first Palazzo Versace. It was the first hotel branded by a luxury brand and it allowed his guest to live a completely Versace experience. The second Palazzo Versace was inaugurated in Dubai in 2016, while in 2019 the third was inaugurated in Macao, in China.

Gian Giacomo Ferraris, CEO at Versace, said: «We are really satisfied because of the opening of a Palazzo Versace hotel in Macao and because of the partnership with SJM, a worker in the sector with wide experience and esteem».

Palazzo Versace’s interiors in Dubai.

Brand Development

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 for Giancarlo Di Risio, in the role of CEO. 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 was 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.

Collaboration with H&M

versace h&m
Some clothes from the Versace collection for H&M.

In 2011 important media-impacting collaborations 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 womenswear and 20 menswear 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.

Current Situation

The brand was owned and managed by the family (50% Allegra Beck Versace, 30% Santo Versace, 20% Donatella Versace), but in 2014 it announced an agreement with the Blackstone fund. Blackstone owned 20% of the company, while the Versace family remained as main part of the company, performing fundamental roles. Donatella Versace is Vice President and Artistic Director, while Santo Versace is President of the Board of Directors. In May 2016 Jonathan Akeroyd was appointed CEO and member of the board directed by the maison.

Today the Gianni Versace s.r.l. is one of the most prestigious names in the international fashion luxury scene. The brand distributes its products through a network of 180 boutiques present in the main cities of the world, plus the 1500 shop in shops dedicated in the main department stores and multi-brand stores.

tributo gianni versace
Summer 2017

In September 2018 the maison announced that all the Blackston and Versace family shares were sold to Michael Kors Limited Group. Then, in January 2019 the griffe became part of the Capri Holdings Group, creating a new luxury group, together with Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo.

The griffe tells its heritage through his innovative and glamour creations: she talks to a global public which continues to strengthen Versace’s position in the contemporary culture.

In 2020, due to the COVID-19, Capri Holding lost 70% of his value and Versace’s debt scared. In spite of the lost, the fund earned 843 millions, thanks to Emea area. The trend was favorable also in 2021, thanks to the success obtained in Social Networks. 

Moreover, in March 2021 the maison presented a new monogram for the accessories, in addition to the Medusa. As said by Jonathan Akeroyd, new CEO of the griffe, «Versace boasts many clearly identifiable articles. We boast a print archive, but we don’t have a distinctive code for the accessories».

The partnership with Fendi: Fendace

On 26th September 2021 the brand partnered with Fendi. The collection was presented in Via del Gesù, in Milan, as special event which many brand lovers took part in. The fashion show, renamed Fendace, was more than a simple partnership: it was the mix of two different creative styles. So Donatella Versace designed Fendi’s clothes, while Kim Jones and Silvia Venturini reinterpreted the Versace’s clothes.

In 2022, Emmanuel Gintzburger left his place at Alexander McQueen and was appointed CEO at Versace.

Last update

Since the brand is part of the Capri Holdings group, Tapestry purchased it as part of a recent agreement in which Tapestry acquired Capri Holdings.





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