Fashion designer Gianni Versace (1946-1997), born on this day in the beautiful town of Reggio Calabria, Southern Italy, inherited his love for fabrics and design from his mother, a dressmaker and clothing store owner.
"Designing came to me. I didn't have to move," he said and opened his own Milan boutique in 1978. Building a family fashion empire, Versace hired his brother Santo and sister Donatella.
"I believe in style," he said and let his imagination fly, designing clothes for those people he said he liked: individuals with a free sense of style. Inspired by Greek art, Alexander Calder, and Andy Warhol, he created beautiful, flamboyant gowns experimenting with materials such as leather, plastic, and metal.
"I'm trying to break the border between chic and shock," he said, loving the innovation, drama, and media attention. He challenged and wooed. The world responded passionately. Celebrities flocked to his catwalk and gobbled up his clothes.
"I think it's the responsibility of a designer to try to break rules and barriers," he said. "I'm a little like Marco Polo, going around and mixing cultures."
The Marco Polo of couture won his battle with a rare inner ear cancer in 1993, then branched out to design bed linen, china, and other houseware items. In 1997, the designer was murdered as he left his Miami oceanfront villa, Casa Casuarina for a morning walk.
In 2008, the Versace fashion house, still owned by the family, continued to grow and celebrate personality and individuality. As its founder Gianni once said, “That is the key of this collection, being yourself. Don't be into trends. Don't make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live.”
Every single one of us can do things that no one else can do.