Luxury & Fashion

Feb 1, 2018

40 YEARS OF HISTORY, 20 WITHOUT THE CREATOR

He was responsible for consolidating the culture of supermodels and the link between fashion, pop culture and celebrities. Presented his first collection in 1978, in Milan, Italy, with just 32 years and totally revolutionized the concept of 'glamour'.

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By JORGE MATIAS

July 1997, Mimi Beach, Florida, United States; victim of a bullet shot by the serial-killer Andrew Phillip Cunanan, dies Giovanni Maria Versace, age 51 years old, for reasons still unknown today.

Gianni, as he became known in the fashion universe, was born in Calábria, South of Italy, in 1946, and he created a global brand both feminine and masculine which placed Italy in the center of the fashion map. The empire he created, sells, clothes, fragrances, jewels, watches, goggles, accessories and interior decoration articles at prohibitive prices. Its clients? Artists from the music world, movie stars and royalty members.

He learned the sewing craft with his mother, Francesca, and his main influences where Andy Warhol, architecture and ancient Greek history.

The brands' logotype – a Medusa's head – appears in equal parts from the childhood references of Rome's ruins, where he played with his brothers (Donatella and Santo, respectively the art director and the brands president) and from the Greek mythology figure which made people fall in love inexorably. Gianni wanted his brand to cause the same effect over people.

In fact, some (many) of the strongest and iconic images from the two last decades of the 20th century, are an important part of his legacy.

The reason is simple: was selling sex and the image of a powerful, luxuriant woman and, obviously, very rich. Gianni established a close link between several cultural sectors through sensual clothing, much golden, strong and vibrant imprints and colors, pins and, naturally, the Medusa logotype.

And, the mark even harder that strong and powerful image of the woman, nothing more perfect than help himself with that group which, meanwhile, was rising and which branded in an unforgettable way the 1980 and 1990 passerelles: Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, among others.

It is important not to mix things, about this: while other fashion designers where hiring one or another for their fashion shows, the world top models where always present in the shows of the Versace house. Thanks to the presence of these models, the brands' shows quickly became unforgettable and not to miss moments, and due to this utilization of the iconic group (still today) arises the concept of the "top model".

Even because Gianni Versace didn't resume to hire the most top of the models, as he also crushed any and all competition by placing them all, shamelessly, together on the passerelle hands with hands.

A magnificent example – specific and memorable of one of these parades – took place in the winter of 1991, at the presentation of the spring/summer collection for 1992, when Versace decided to enter the runway Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington, holding hands and singing the theme "Freedom! '90" from George Michael – it should also be noted, that all these models are in the official videoclip of the English singer.

Disruptive

But, if in 1991, Versace marked forever the fashion world with this unique and unforgettable parade (worth seeing the video of the parade which is available on the internet), a year later he would rip again all concepts and moral standards by presenting a collection with a strong and fetishist nature and markedly silhouettes inspired by the practice of Bondage.

"Obscene!", many rushed rating. Suzy Menkes, fashion critic and publisher from the very conservative International Herald Tribune, was especially hard when she wrote: "I don't want to see women as sex objects or anything like that."

At the same time, the renowned photographer Helmut Newton stated "I loved" and, as it was reported a few days later by the New York Times, at a gala evening in New York, in the United States, the style used by most prominent socialites of the time was the "new Versace style".

Other fashion critics of the time, compared the Versace and Armani styles this way: "If Armani's clothes are discreet and whispering, the Versace style represents screaming 'glamour'".

Versace never bothered to save during his campaigns and worked numerous times with the best photographers of the era, like Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Bruce Weber, who photographed Jerry Hall, Rene Russo, Jon Bon Jovi, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss or Madonna…

On the day of Gianni's death, his rival, Giorgio Armani said "Gianni Versace symbolizes the success of Italian fashion all over the world", and added, "his death left me in deep shock".

In September 2017, to celebrate the 40 years of the brand Versace, the Italian house recruited a "super-family" to introduce also their spring/summer collection for 2018, in Milan. And what a "super-family" it was.

Reclaiming "present" for the parade some of the faces which will always be associated to the Italian genius brand: Gisele Bündchen, Gigi Hadid, Irina Shayk, Raquel Zimmerman, Natalia Vodianova, Vittoria Ceretti, Kaia Gerber, Cara Taylor, Birgit Kos, Grace Elizabeth e Noah Luis Brown.

The entire parade was accompanied by phrases of Donatella Versace: "Gianni, this is for you" and "this is the celebration of the genius; This is the celebration of an icon; This the celebration of my brother".

The Italian designer's sister, paid a tribute to her late brother with a 'grand finale' worthy of Gianni: in some glamorous silver dresses, Donatella thanked the audience accompanied by Carla Bruni, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen, by the sound of Freedom! '90.

The Versace brand celebrates its 40 years in 2018, 20 of which without its Creator. And today we can say that the man might have died; but his spirit, style and heritage is still alive and vibrant.

Contacts * www.versace.com * Ottagono Galleria Vittorio Emanuele Ii - Milan, 20121 * Tel.: +39 02 89011479

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