As a Fashion Stylist, I always say,
“Chanel was my first love, but Versace is my most loved fashion house of all”, for indeed I own more Versace than any other luxury brand.
What is it that draws me to Versace again and again?
I guess it is the same thing that draws me to designers such as Beverly Feldman, the bold and colourful way in which their apparel is so daringly executed. This is really the artful end of couture and contemporary fashion with a distinct cultural influence that is rooted so firmly in the root of the founder Gianni Versace.
Versace is an Italian fashion company founded by Gianni Versace in 1978. The company produces Italian-made ready-to-wear apparel, accessories and haute couture under its Atelier Versace brand.
In 1972, Gianni Versace designed his first collections for Callaghan, Genny and Complice. In 1978, the company launched under the name “Gianni Versace Donna”, and opened its first boutique in Milan’s Via della Spiga. Gianni independently controlled much of the brand, from designing to retailing. In 1981 the House of Versace released their first fragrance, Gianni Versace for Women. In 1982, the company expanded its offering to include accessories, jewellery, home furnishings and china. In 1993, Donatella Versace added the Young Versace and Versus lines.
Versace has designed for various music artists, including stage and album cover costumes for Elton John. Versace has also designed outfits for Michael Jackson, the Princess of Wales, and the Princess Caroline of Monaco.
After the murder of Gianni Versace outside his Miami home in 1997, his sister Donatella, formerly vice-president, took over as creative director, and his older brother Santo Versace became CEO. Donatella’s daughter Allegra Versace was left a 50 per cent state in the company, which she assumed control of on her eighteenth birthday.
There are unmistakable logos and designs which are instantly recognisable as Versace, and it is always interesting to see the plethora of ways these are incorporated into designs and re-invested time after time. Being a mythology aficionado, having written books on the subject, I am absolutely in love with the usage of imagery from Greek mythology in Versace’s design. The most obvious example of this is of course the stylised rendering of Medusa as the Versace logo. The love of all things Greco is rooted in the fact that Gianni Versace was a native of Calabria, once part of the ancient Magna Grecia (Greater Greece). The Greek-inspired folding square motif is also commonly used as design embellishments. Indeed, Versace does the seemingly impossible, by blending ancient history with modern-day contemporary design, which is executed with their bold and detailed fabric prints. Baroque and animal prints often appear on Versace fabrics, which extends its themes all the way through to their tableware and linen. In fact, there is nothing you can’t get in Versace. You can even have your floors and walls adorned with Versace ceramic tiles.
Versace has given us some of the most memorable moments on the old rouge carpet, even gaining the title for a dress forever embedded into fashion history, THAT DRESS, being the black safety pin dress that Elizabeth Hurley wore. This was one of those moments in fashion history that put Versace firmly on the map. And indeed, from this moment onwards, from the perspective of a fashion stylist, Versace has been one of the most fascinating design houses to follow. Their bold creations always turn heads at the Met Gala and award shows. The other epic dress of course being the one that Jennifer Lopes wore to the Grammys, and has been one of those dresses that made a mark on fashion history.
It is often so easy to get caught up in the allure of a luxury brand, that most often we don’t contemplate what gives that brand value. Many luxury brands are now headed by Artistic Directors who are expected to maintain the DNA of a brand, whilst still keeping it relevant in an ever-evolving fashion scene. The really truly unique aspect of the House of Versace is that unlike its counterparts/competitors such as Chanel, Gucci or Louis Vuitton, the House of Versace is still steered creatively by a Versace, being Donatella Versace, and thus, the brand and its designs remain – albeit for now – authentic, and true to its roots. Versace is indeed still the House of Versace, despite, over time, selling part of it, as Versace is a billion-dollar global luxury brand.