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A fusion of fashion, art, celebrity and opulence, the Italian luxury brand Versace has become one of the leading names in 21st Century haute couture. Founded in 1978 by Gianni Versace, the fashion house became a famous name in the industry in the mid-1990s thanks to the promotion of Princess Diana, Tupac Shakur and Elizabeth Hurley, whom, incidentally, also became famous thanks to the brand itself. It was to be at the premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral where Hurley would accompany Hugh Grant on the red carpet wearing the infamous “safety-pin dress” which polarised the general public due to its overtly-risqué appearance. This particular dress is said to be the most famous of Versace’s creations and remains an iconic piece in haute couture.
However, it was not until 1997 that the house would be struck by an unforeseen tragedy; Gianni Versace murdered on his doorstep by serial killer Andrew Cunanan. It has often been debated that Cunanan targeted the designer due to raging jealousy towards Versace’s ‘gay icon’ status. Versace’s funeral, broadcast to the public, was attended by notable figures such as Princess Diana, Elton John and Naomi Campbell. After his death, Gianni’s sister and muse, Donatella, was named as the new creative director of Versace, placing her behind the shadow of her phenomenally successful brother, resulting in the brand’s future being put into question.
Despite worrying stories regarding Donatella’s heiress daughter, Allegra, and her mental health, Versace finds itself in ever-growing popularity. The Italian brand, now famous for its use of ‘celebrity faces’, is now, more than ever, one of the most worn pieces on the red carpet. Will the Medusa logo soon topple the iconic, interlocked Cs of Chanel from its throne? Perhaps not, but one cannot deny that Versace is the embodiment of 21st Century luxury, glamour and wealth.
By Pierre Greenhalgh
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham