1. Gianni's Respect of Ancient Masterpieces
Gianni had deep respect for and was heavily influenced by art, culture and architectural masterpieces of the ancients. Gianni was born in Reggio di Calabria in Southern Italy, part of the region once known as Magna Graeca or Great Greece. The Greeks colonized Magna Graeca many centuries ago, and in doing so left an inerasable imprint of their culture and traditions, much of which provides an endless source of inspiration to this day. Gianni often wandered among the ancient Greek and Roman ruins, which would later provide him with themes for his clothing. Gianni also studied Latin and ancient Greek. Be it abundance of Greek Key borders in Gianni’s jewelry designs or a patio’s theme beside the pool in his Florida mansion — with its 24ct gold mosaics, designed in Italy and shipped over — his creative influence could certainly be traced back to the Ancient Greeks.
Patio and the pool at Gianni’s house in Florida
2. Versace's Mythical Company LogoEven the Versace company logo, conceived by Gianni, has a mythical air about it. Those early years spent in Reggio di Calabria may be where Gianni first became aware of the Medusa head: it is featured on the flag of neighboring Sicily. The designer’s obsession with Medusa was a well-known fact. Not many realize. however. that the Medusa’s image Gianni chose to be the company’s logo was inspired by the pre-monster Medusa, who symbolized grace and beauty. In Greek mythology Medusa is a beautiful Gorgon, one of the three, and the only one who was mortal. The young, golden-haired and beautiful Medusa caught the eye of the god Poseidon who, not giving it much thought, decided to ravish the maiden in the temple of another god, Athena. Unfortunately for Medusa, Athena didn’t take it lightly and in a fit of rage and jealousy, Athena turned Medusa into a hideous monster with snakes instead of a hair. She made her ghastly to such a degree that anyone who looked upon Medusa’s face turned to stone. This is how Medusa is most commonly portrayed and remembered, and why she is most often associated with anger and evil. In his logo however Versace portrays Medusa with flowing hair instead of snakes; she is a beautiful woman with a supernatural aura and proportional features.
3. Versace's Genuine Designs Extremely Rare
Versace's designs, the genuine ones that is, are extremely rare. While Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in L.A. has arguably the largest Versace collections in the country and you can browse these all you want, but owning any of the authentic Gianni Versace clothes or jewelry designs isn’t an easy feat. You’d need to find a very, very reputable and experienced vintage & antique jewelry finder with widespread connections; there are only a handful of them in the country. “It’s very hard to find authentic [Gianni] Versace pieces”, admitted Lou Eyrich, The Assassination of Gianni Versace costume designer and three-time Emmy Award winner in an interview to WWD. Her team reached out to every contact they had in the country while putting together the wardrobe and set design pieces for the TV series. In the end, they still had to go with copycats and “recreations” of half of the pieces instead of using authentic Gianni Versace clothes designs, jewelry, watches, etc.
4. Versace: A Risk-TakerSome of Versace's friends included Madonna, Sting, Princess Diana, and Elton John. Versace made a decision to move away from inviting rich socialites to his fashion shows and instead fill the front rows with celebrities and personal friends, becoming known for his party-like runway shows. This is something that hasn’t been done by designers before him; he was also one of the first designers to link fashion to the music world.
5. Versace: A Bold Innovator
In 1982, Versace won the first of a series of awards for the best fashion designer collection for women. In this collection he displayed his famous metal garments, now a classic feature of Versace fashion. To develop the mesh material, Versace worked with German engineers. In later collections, metal dresses were made in bright colors. In the 1980's, Versace introduced another technological innovation, the bonding of leather to rubber using lasers. Giorgio Armani once called Gianni a ”great creator”, admiring “[Gianni’s] incredible exuberance, a sense of happiness that mixes everything—ideas, trends, memories, art—with a sort of nonchalant vitality."
6. Versace: Hard Worker Without Shortcuts
Gianni was a hard worker and never took shortcuts. At the age of 18, while he was still in school, he also worked for his mother, who had a fashion atelier with about 40 seamstresses employed at the time. Versace opened his first boutique in Milan years later, in 1978. Within only 10 years, Gianni had built a fashion empire with estimated worth more than $800 million!
Versace store in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, Italy
Versace decided to remain independent, becoming one of the very few big labels in control of the entire product cycle, from design to retail. To this day 80% of the company is in the hands of the Versace family.