Gianni Versace, a life lived as a 90s fashion icon

Thu Mar 4, 2010 1:13pm EST
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By Nick Olivari

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Italian designer Gianni Versace was shot dead in Miami in 1997 at the height of his creative prowess, marking not just the high water mark for his fashion house but also the celebrity culture he helped create.

"House of Versace: The Untold Story of Genius, Murder, and Survival," by Deborah Ball tells the story of how Gianni, with his flamboyant sister Donatella as muse, not only became the cutting edge of 90s fashion but symbolized the era.

"The 90s saw globalization, the Internet, huge wealth creation and the media was hungry for more things to cover," said Ball, 41, by telephone from Zurich. Gianni "was able to tap all of this, all at the same time."

The 320-page book begins with Gianni's rise from humble beginnings to events 10 years after his murder at 50 walking back from a local coffee shop.

Along the way, the book provides compelling insight into the economic and lifestyle excesses of the 90s, the luxury goods industry and the big business aspect of fashion.

Under Gianni Versace's rule class and style went from subdued to glitz and glamour. Celebrity was key and luminaries included Britain's Princess Diana.

But the story Ball weaves, of the family dynasty where Gianni Versace could be creative because his brother, Santo, took care of the business decisions, is about a man who saw the changing future of women's dress.

"His taste appealed to the baby boomer's daughter," said Ball   Continued...

<p>Santo Versace, President of the Versace fashion label, speaks at a media conference in Sydney May 2 at the launch of an exhibition honouring his late younger brother Gianni who was gunned down outside his Miami home in 1997. REUTERS/David Gray</p>