Gianni Versace was one of the most influential fashion designers of the 20th century. In addition to his trend-setting haute couture, he designed fashions for such celebrities as Princess Diana, Elton John and Madonna. He was shot and killed in front of his Miami home in 1997.
Gianni Versace was born in southern Italy but began his career in Milan, Italy's fashion capital. Though he first moved to Milan in 1972, it took six years of freelancing for some of Italy's most renowned designers before he was ready to debut his first line in 1978. Versace's designs were not known for their subtly. In fact, Versace made a name for himself through the use of bold colors and patterns as well as unconventional materials. His designs were also often controversial, with plunging necklines and splits that were deemed too revealing. He befriended many celebrities and often designed exclusively for them in order to circulate his name and create a demand for his product. He understood the power of celebrity influence over consumer culture, particularly in matters of fashion. Although it is believed that Versace was killed by Andrew Cunanan, it is not fully understood why. Upon his death, Versace was mourned by dozens of celebrities, including Princess Diana, who also died tragically a month later.