From the seemingly constant musical chairs of creative directors to the ever swirling rumours about mergers, acquisitions and collaborations, the fashion industry is nothing if not dramatic. But few houses have a history so full of the highest highs and lowest lows like Versace. Yet, despite all the tragedy and scandal, the Versace house has remained one of the world’s most famous and respected for decades. Here’s everything you need to know…
Gianni Versace founds his eponymous fashion house in Milan and opens his first boutique on the Via della Spiga. His clothes are unashamedly sexy and bold, celebrating the female form and encouraging women to the express their personalities.
After finding immediate success with his womenswear collections, Gianni expands the Versace brand to include accessories, furnishings and tableware.
Gianni Versace begins showing his Atelier Versace collections in Paris during haute couture week. While initially starting with smaller presentations, Versace would join the official show schedule in 1990, habitually choosing the swimming pool at the Hôtel Ritz as a venue.
Versace opens its first boutique outside Italy in Glasgow, Scotland. It now operates more than 1,500 boutiques worldwide.
The Young Versace children’s line is launched alongside Versus - a more affordable ready-to-wear collection aimed at a younger consumer.
Elizabeth Hurley wear a Versace safety pin dress to the premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral. The design causes such a stir it is still known as ‘That Dress’ and brings international fame to the Versace brand.
The fashion world is shaken by the murder of Gianni Versce outside his Miami mansion by Andrew Cunanan. Gianni’s sister Donatella assumes the role of artistic director, a position she retains to this day, while his brother Santo is named CEO.
The first Versace hotel, Palazzo Versace, opens on Australia’s Gold Coast. With interior design by Donatella Versace - and completely outfitted in signature Versace fabrics and designs - it is a complete emersion in the Versace lifestyle.
This year also sees Jennifer Lopez wear the iconic green ‘Jungle’ dress to the Grammy Awards. Images of Lopez in the dress are searched for so widely online it sparks the creation of Google Images.
Versace becomes the latest in a long line of high fashion houses - including Lanvin, Stella McCartney, Karl Lagerfeld and Commes des Garcons - to create a collection for H&M. So intense was the excitement that shoppers queued overnight to secure their favourite pieces and the H&M website crashed when the collection went live.
Versace returns to Haute Couture week after an eight-year hiatus.
The Blackstone private equity group acquires 20% of Versace. Donatella Versace, Santo Versace and Allegra Versace Beck retain key roles in the running of the brand.
The second Palazzo Versace opens in Dubai.
Jonathan Akeroyd is announced as CEO of the Versace Group. One of his most important early decision is to pull Atelier Versace from the official Haute Couture Week schedule, opting for international client events instead.
Versace is acquired in its entirety by Group Michael Kors for $2.12 billion. In January 2019, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo and Versace join Capri Holdings to form a new luxury conglomerate.
In late 2018 the brand also stages its first ever pre-fall runway show in New York, timed to coincide with Gianni Versace’s birthday.