Text by Andrea Blanco, Copyright 2021
Gianni Versace a Seductive Mind
Gianni Versace was born in Reggio Calabria, Italy in 1945, the son of a dressmaker is why Gianni became interested in fashion at an early age. He spent a lot of time in her workshop learning the craft from his mom while developing a talent for drawing fashion figures with a charcoal marker. He was very interested in art and poetry during his youth.
Gianni was always a familiar person and from a young age his muse and main inspiration was his sister, Donatella. The relationship between them was very close and they have a multitude of stories to tell about their lives together. In fact it was Gianni at just 11 years old who convinced his sister to dye her hair blonde due to her fanaticism for Patty Pravo, a famous Italian singer.
Gianni’s career in the world of fashion began in 1976 with designs made for his own sister, after having worked for
various companies in the sector. With the help of his brother Santo, he decided to create his own brand with the symbol of the medusa as the company logo. Gianni had a great interest in classical culture, therefore, this mythological character that represents strength, power, and to ward off evil was the perfect logo for his firm.
Art has always been an important part of Gianni’s life. During his lifetime he collected some classics including Degas and Modigliani. He also enjoyed the work of contemporary artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. In the fashion world, Yves Saint Laurent was a steady influence.
With respect to Pop Art, Andy Warhol played with the idea of producing images of Campbell’s soup or icons like Marilyn Monroe and turning them into works of art. In the same way, Versace influenced by Warhol designed garments stamped with the image of Marilyn Monroe have become unique pieces. Allessandra Fanari, a teacher at the L’institut Marangoni in Paris says, “when we talk about art the concept is more important than the object itself. If you change the context of an object you turn it into something different, into art itself.”
Thanks to Gianni’s great knowledge of the history of art, he was able to combine opposing styles giving rise to extravagant and unique designs. In addition, he was passionate about the Baroque period, its forms, extraordinary flair and style. Versace knew how to see art, appreciate it and express it through his designs as a way to show the world beauty.
He is considered one of the first designers who related fashion and music by collaborating with good friends such as Elton John, Whitney Houston, and Madonna. Those collaborations brought him great prestige and notoriety on the international stage, getting music and Hollywood celebrities to start looking towards him in the early 1990s to design costumes for their performances and movies. Gianni brought the rock concerts to his catwalks and made fashion shows popular in different sectors by using actors, movie stars and singers as his models.
At the beginning of the nineties, Gianni Versace put together all the top models of the moment on the same catwalk, an action that changed the history of fashion, since until then super models were reserved for magazines.
Under his motto “I don’t have time for the boring monotony of good taste” he combined leather, lace and metal to fill Haute Couture with sensuality and a move away from minimalism with a strong brand identity recognized for its extensive use of color and extravagant prints.
There are many reasons for Gianni Versace’s lasting success. According to Tony Ward, currently a visiting Instructor of Fine Arts at Haverford College and former lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, “one of them is that he was one of the first fashion designers to reveal his sexuality. It was a risky decision because many in his field thought that he would alienate his client base, however that was simply not the case.” In addition, “Versace differed from most fashion houses because Gianni believed in running a family business and that was one of the keys that allowed the brand to continue with success after his death in 1997.” On the other hand, Ward considers that the way Versace combined fabrics with bold color, graphics and modernist design was the work of his genius.
For some mega fans like Bryan Abrams, a prolific collector of Versace since meeting the designer in 1982, spoke at the University of Pennsylvania about his Versace collection during one of professor Ward’s fashion classes. Bryan has collected exclusive and unique pieces for years, because he states, “wearing Versace is completely different from any other brand. Gianni created a completely new way of looking at fashion. His colors and vibrancy are like no other fashion house. When you wear Versace, you stand out!”
About The Author:
Andrea Blanco is studying for a masters degree specializing in fashion communication and marketing in Barreira A+D, Valencia (Spain). “I studied this because I love fashion and everything in this world and I like to learn more about fashion and art, fashion and music, history…. Moreover I like to be up on the latest trends. Someday I would like to work in fashion communications and share my passion for fashion with the world.”