Versace, More than just a brand

Ariel | Mar 14, 2018

Versace is an Italian luxury fashion company and trade name that was founded by Gianna Versace in 1978. The Versace logo is the head of Medusa, a Greek mythological figure. The logo came from the floor of the ruins in Rome that the Versace siblings played in as children. Gianna Versace chose Medusa as the logo because she made people fall in love with her and they had no way back.

Gianna Versace was born Reggio Calabria in Italy on December 2nd, 1946. He studied architecture in Calabria from 1964 through 1967. He had two siblings, a brother Santo and sister Donatella. Gianna started as a designer and buyer in Paris and London for his mother’s dressmaking studio from 1968 through 1972. He then became a freelance designer from 1972 through 1977 before forming his own company in Milan in 1978. This is where he showed his first womens wear collection, he then showed his first mens wear collection in 1979. Gianna proceeded to launch signature fragrances and home furnishings in 1981 and 1993.

His work was both metaphorical opera and real clothing, it contained larger than life exuberance and design bravura as well as unpretentious, pratical application to the comfort of the wearer and expressiveness of the body. He created distinctive, at the edge designs that achieved the aesthetic limit of the avant-garde and the commercial success of viable apparel.

Versace was a consummate craftsman with his insistence upon directing all aspects of his fashion, from publicity and his books, to the exhibitions. He was well known for his relationship with high profile celebrities and musicians. He was one of the first designers to fill the front rows of his fashion shows with stars and personal friends instead of rich socialites. He became known for his party like runway shows, and for creating the supermodel. It wasn’t too long after that other designers followed suit.

Not only did Versace design for his own collection he also designed for theater and films. He often collaborated with Maurice Bejart on various ballet and opera productions, according to the American Ballet Theatre. Many of his designs have been showcased in numerous museums, including Germany’s Kunstgewerbemuseum, Japan’s Kobe City Museum, London’s Royal College of Art and Chicago’s National Field Museum.

Versace is remembered for bringing vitality and art to an industry that was once considered out of touch with street culture. He was able to build an empire worth 807 million dollars in less than ten years time.

He was known for his glamorous styles, producing a range of siren dresses that became his trademark. Versace would often use innovative materials like aluminum mesh in his designs. The head of Medusa was also a recurring image on many of his clothing items and accessories. Versace launched his first couture collection in 1989, he later added two clothing lines Versus and Instate in the 1990’s.

Another notable aspect of the Versace brand is Versace’s sister Donatella Versace. Donatella was born in May of 1955 in Italy. She grew up with two major fashion influences, her brother Gianni and her mother who was a dressmaker. Donatella started working for Gianni in the late 1970’s, as his muse and advisor. She later became the designer for the companies Versus line in the 1990’s.

Donatella was incredibly close to her older brother Gianni, who would take her out with him at night and make outfits for her to wear. She had begun developing her trademark look as a teenager, dying her hair platinum blonde and using dark eyeliner.

She was right by her brother Gianni’s side when he started his fashion company in Milan in 1978. He relied on her for her advice about his designs. She also played an important role in orchestrating multiple Versace fashion shows and advertising campaigns.

She served as the chief designer for Versace’s Versus line. During the mid 1990’s she took on a larger role while her brother battled cancer. Because of his health the Versace siblings worked on a company succession plan. Even though Gianni won his battle with cancer he tragically lost his life in 1997.

Although Donatella was devastated by the death of her brother, she was determined to carry on his legacy. She was announced as Versace’s artistic director days after Gianni’s death. Donatella explained to New York Magazine that during the last two years of her brother’s life she had already taken on quite a large role within the business.

“I was going up into his apartment, showing him the work, getting the approval from him, but I ran the company because he wasn’t showing himself. It was like a year and a half, I did everything.”

Donatella has led the company’s design vision ever since, helping to reinvent it’s product lines over the years. Today, Versace markets a variety of product lines, from home goods to perfume, clothing and eyewear, and operates two hotels.

That is the key of this collection, being yourself. Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live – Gianni Versace

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