Today marks 24 years since fashion mogul Gianni Versace was killed at the age of 50.  Before his death, Versace was known as a radical given that his designs crossed creative boundaries with their artsy, sultry, and controversial flares. His eye-catching brilliant colors clothing line blended well into contemporary fashion.

”I think it’s the responsibility of a designer to try to break the rules and barriers,” he once said. ”I’m a little like Marco Polo, going around and mixing cultures.”

Fashion loved Versace, in return, Versace rewarded his admirers with phenomenal designs. “By now, it is part of my life-cycle. I cannot distinguish myself from my work. It is always there, as necessary to me as drinking water,” he once told a reporter….”

MILANof, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 22: Carla Bruni, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Helena Christensen and Donatella Versace walk the runway at the Versace show during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2018 on September 22, 2017 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Jacopo Raule/Getty Images)

Those who know Versace say his spirit was uplifting, reserved, and unassuming in stark contrast to many creative visionaries in the entertainment world who struggle to relate.

“I understand people, and I have a good business sense….My life is completely down-to-earth; I only go out when it is necessary for my work. The rest of the time, I stay at home and read lots of newspapers and loads of books,” Versace told an interviewer. ‘

Anna Wintour, who was the editor of Vogue magazine, told an interviewer. “[Versace was] the first to realize the value of the celebrity in the front row, and the value of the supermodel, and put fashion on an international media platform.”.  

Celebrities such as actress Angelina Jolie and Eva Longoria of Desperate Housewives, boxer Mike Tyson, the late singer Prince, and models Cindy Crawford and Gisele Bündchen, who is the highest-paid model and the 16th richest woman in the entertainment industry, all wanted a taste of Versace’s brilliance.   

A chance encounter with Versace

Andrew Cunanan was said to have had an IQ over 100, but rather than focus on college, he chose a career in the dangerous world of male prostitution.

 The Documentary Gianni Versace: The Story of His Final 24 Hours allege that Cunanan briefly met Versace seven years earlier at a party. While it’s unclear if Cunanan and Versace had a sexual encounter, based on interviews, Cunanan became obsessed. 

Cunanan arrived in Miami from New York after murdering four people in four different states. He was 27-years-old and on the FBI’s 10 most-wanted list.  His life equaled that of a backyard junk dog sleeping around to buy hardcore drugs.  In fact, he was convinced he caught HIV.

On the morning of July 15, 1997, Versace, born on December 2, 1946, in Reggio Calabria in Italy, was on his way home to his luxury villa apartment in Miami after taking a morning stroll.

Cunanan

Versace was raised in a humble working-class family where criminal activity in the community wasn’t the norm; not to mention that on July 15, Versace lived on the first-floor in an upscale neighborhood.

According to reports, as Versace was entering his apartment, Cunanan ambushed him and fired two bullets at Versace’s head, killing him instantly.  Versace had been in a long-term love partnership with former model and fashion designer Antonio D’amico; D’amico was home at the time of the killing.

After murdering Versace, Cunanan walked peacefully through a frantic crowd. Although a massive manhunt for Cunanan was already active, after he murdered Versace, law enforcement ramped up their efforts to bring Cunanan to justice.

After four weeks on the run, law enforcement surrounded a boat that Cunanan had broken into. Instead of turning himself in, Cunanan committed suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.  

 Family was everything to Versace.  His brother, Santo, and his sister, Donatella, played significant roles in his business.  Donatella was creative director and designed the Versace’s Versus collection; Santo was president of the company, Paul Beck, who was Donatella’s husband, was director of Versace’s men’s wear while D’Amico was in charge of designing Versace Sportswear.  

If Versace put on a sizzling showcase to unveil his newest clothing line, his family sat front row.  In his will, Versace left most of his fortune to his nephew Allegra, while another portion had previsions that D’amico was to receive a monthly allowance of $28,000.  

Gianni Versace with brother Santo and sister Donatella.

Versace’s father, Antonio, was a merchant and his mother Francesca was a seamstress whose passion significantly influenced a then 9-year-old Versace. Versace studied architecture before moving to Milan, where he worked for several brands for almost ten years.  

However, his breakthrough in the fashion world came after he presented his first clothing collection in 1970 named Palazzo Della Permanente.  Versace’s showed talent with his ability to produce stunning combinations of different clothing materials ranging from leather mixed with lace to dazzling Swarovski crystals—which became his trademark years later.  He was given the lofty nickname “king of fashion,” which was befitting.   

Netflix produced a documentary called “The assassination of Gianni Versace,” which is now available.

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