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The Versace Family

Posted Sep 01 2011 12:00am
Good morning beautiful people.

This morning I decided I wanted to do a blog about the famous Versace Family. We’ve all heard of the Versace brand before, seeing as it is a world renowned name in the fashion industry, but I wanted to give a bit of detail behind the actual family, rather than the designs they create. I’m going to start off with the main man behind the Versace label, Gianni Versace himself.

Gianni Versace was born on December 2, 1946 in Reggio Calabria, Italy. He had an older brother, Santo, an older sister Tina who died at age 12 from a tetanus related infection, and a younger sister, Donatella. He studied architecture before he moved to Milan at the age of 26 to become a fashion designer.

In the mid-1970’s, his knits drew the attention of head hunters at Genny and Callaghan. Complice hired him to design their leather and suede collections, and a few years later, encouraged by his success, Versace presented his first signature collection for women at the Palazzo della Permanente Art Museum of Milan. His first menswear collection followed in September of the same year. After presenting his menswear collection, he joined Jorge Saud, who would later become partners with Giorgio Armani. The first boutique was opened in Milan’s Via della Spiga in 1978.

Gianni Versace was shot dead on July 15, 1997 at age 50, on the steps of his Miami Beach mansion as he returned from a morning walk on Ocean Drive. He was murdered by Andrew Cunanan, who used the same gun to commit suicide on a boat several days later. According to a member of the ‘Ndrangheta, Giuseppe Di Bella the fashion designer, Versace was murdered because of debts to the Mafia.

In September 1997 it was announced that Versace’s brother, Santo, and Jorge Saud would serve as the new CEO’s of Gianni Versace SPA. Versache’s sister, Donatella, became the new head of design. In his will, Gianni left 50% of his fashion empire to his niece Allegra Versache, daughter of Donatella. Her younger brother Daniel inherited Versace’s rare art collection. Allegra inherited her stake, worth about half a billion dollars, when she turned 18 in 2004.

Santo Versace

Santo Versace was born on December 16th, 1944. He grew up at the same time as Gianni Versace in Italy.

In 1968 Santo graduated from the University of Messina with a degree in Economics. He first began working as a banker in Reggio Calabria for Credito Italiano and later worked as a high school teacher of economics and geography. In 1972 he completed his military service as an officer in the “Genova Cavalleria”. Upon completion of his service, Santo opened his own accounting office in both Reggio Calabria and Milan. In 1976 he joined his brother Gianni in Milan to support him in his rising career.

In 1977, Santo along with Gianni, founded the Gianni Versace trademark. Santo played a leading role in the success of the Versace brand by focusing on communication, organization, productivity, and quality. He oversaw all areas of the business – including sales, distribution, production and finance, and quickly became one of the industry’s leading and most well-respected businesspeople.

In 1998, Santo was appointed president of the Italian Fashion Chamber where he served from 1998-1999. Santo is married to Christina, and they live in Milan with their two children, Francesca and Antonio.

With his sister, Donatella, the team built the Versace Empire into a worldwide luxury company generating over $1 billion per year in retail sales. Today, together with Donatella, Santo continues to lead the house of Versace.

Allegra Versace

Allegra Versace was born on June 30, 1986. She is the niece of the late Gianni Versace and was eleven years old when Gianni was murdered. Gianni doted on Allegra, calling her a princess and once saying,

“I like Allegra because she tells me the truth about Donatella."
When Gianni passed, he left 50% of his empire to Allegra. While she was still a minor, her uncle and mother were trustees of her portion and on her 18th birthday, she assumed command of the $700 million fortune giving her 50% controlling stock at Versace.

She was raised outside of Milan along with her younger brother Daniel, she has been described as being very close to her mother, though very different. It was said that she is a “serious, sensible and bright” child “with her hair in pigtails and her nose in a history book.”

She went to school at Sir James Henderson School in Milan and attended Brown University in Rhode Island. She divides her time between her mother’s home in Milan and a busy social life in New York City and Los Angeles. In 2006 she became a UCLA student of French, Art History and Theatre.

In March 2007 Allegra was admitted into treatment for anorexia.

Donatella Versace

Donatella was born on May 2, 1955. She was born in the Italian city of Reggio di Calabria and is the youngest of her 4 siblings.

In the 1970’s, Donatella followed her brother Gianni to pursue knitwear design in Florence, Italy. Donatella had planned to work for her brother as Public Relations, but she was more valuable to Gianni as a “muse and critic” according to Donatella during an interview with Vogue. Through her closeness to her brother’s enterprises, Donatella plunged into the fashion world. A decade later, during the 1980’s, Gianni launched a perfume dedicated to her, Blonde, and gave her her own diffusion label, Versus, which remains a well-known Versace inner line.

Donatella was the first to use notable celebrities to broadcast her clothing into the world on the catwalk and other public media such as advertisements, instead of using unknown models. Donatella soon proved to be the public relations giant with the Versace label and spread its name throughout Europe and most of the United States. Donatella chose to place some of her good friends, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Christina Aguilera, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Demi Moore, in high esteem in the Versace advertising sector, making them and other A-list celebrities like Beyonce and January Jones the persona and image of Versace. Her popularity grew when she designed the famous Versace Green Dress, worn by Jennifer Lopez at the Grammy’s in 2000.

A year and three days after Gianni’s death in July 1998, Donatella mounted her first couture show for Versace Atelier at the Hotel Ritz Paris. She built her runway over the hotel’s swimming pool, as her brother had done every season, though this time using sheer glass. She now oversees the production of over a dozen collections each year, though these days, Donatella is just as famous as for her celebrity entourage and glittering parties. Regular guests include Sir Elton John, Liz Hurley, Rakeem Young, Lucy Munn, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Kate Moss. Even Prince Charles attends Donatella’s parties for the famous and elite throughout Europe.

In 2010 Donatella’s charity work earned her a Do Something With Style Award nomination from the VH1 Do Something Awards. She was nominated for providing art supplies to children and creating a tote bag, whose proceeds will go to Starlight and the ONE Foundations.
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