by Mafalda Neto
20 years ago one of the most acclaimed fashion designers in the world was shot and killed while he was returning to his South Beach home in Miami, Florida after his morning walk.
Gianni Versace was 50 years old and left an unaccountable legacy as well as an empire worth more than 800 million dollars.
Versace was born in 1946 in Reggio Calabria, Italy. He moved to Milan in 1972, where he worked as a freelancer designer until he opened his first boutique in Milan's via della Spiga in 1978. Within 10 years he became one of the most creative, genious and successful fashion designers at a global scale.
Throughout his career Versace designed stage costumes for worldwide celebrities like Elton John, Madonna, Eric Clapton, Diana Princess of Wales, Sting, Duran Duran, Cher or David Bowie and worked with some of the most memorable super models like Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista or Kate Moss. He was one of the first designers to link fashion to the music world.
In 1989 Gianni Versace introduced Versus as the first diffusion lines by the house, a gift by the founder to his sister Donatella Versace. Versus was known for its distinctive rock-chic look that Donatella favoured. Versus grew to include menswear, fragrances, and its own (sub) diffusion line, Versus Sport, headed by Versace's life partner, Antonio D'Amico. During 2004, when the company was facing a downturn in profits, Versus was reduced to a limited collection of accessories, eventually being shut down with the final show, the menswear Spring/Summer 2005.
Twenty years later, his name still has an enormous power in the fashion industry and his life and death is the inspiration for music lyrics, movies and tv shows and the motivations for his assassination still remains a mystery.