Versace, Gianni (Giovanni Maria Versace), 1946–97, Italian fashion designer, b. Reggio Calabria. A dressmaker's son, Versace worked for several Italian designers before opening (1978) his own Milan studio in partnership with his brother Santo and sister Donatella. He became famous for designing flashy, sexy, beautifully cut outfits in strikingly extreme colors, patterns, fabrics, and leathers. His fashion empire eventually encompassed men's, women's and children's clothing, accessories, jewelry, perfume, and housewares, included some 130 boutiques worldwide, and had annual sales that exceeded $800 million. Versace merged the worlds of fashion and entertainment; his lavish shows were pop-culture events, and he drew inspiration from contemporary street life, art, and films as well as art and design history. Emminently theatrical, he also designed for the stage, opera, and ballet. He was murdered on the steps of his Miami Beach, Fla., mansion by a fugitive serial killer. His sister Donatella Francesca Versace, 1955–, succeeded him as his company's head designer (1997–) and CEO (1997–2004), and expanded the business to include furniture and luxury hotels.
See biography by L. Turner (1998); museum catalogs ed. by R. Martin (1998) and V. Claire and M. Wilcox (2002).
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