Gianni Versace/

Don't make fashion own you

Gianni Versace rose from humble origins as the son of a coal merchant and a dressmaker in Calabria in southern Italy. He learned to sew at his mother’s knee.

Creating clothes for people to express who they were and how they lived, he established a fashion empire and enjoyed a life of extraordinary success.

By 1993, Versace was selling clothes, jewellery and accessories in 345 retail outlets. He designed what simply became known as THAT dress worn by Elizabeth Hurley at the 1994 premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral. The breathtaking clinging dress, apparently held together with huge gold safety pins launched the actress from unknown to full-blown celebrity, as the red-carpet photos circulated around the world.

The designer counted Elton John, Ivana Trump, Madonna, Prince, Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Diana amongst his many celebrity clients. Diana (who would die herself, the following month) was one of the 2,000 people to attend Versace’s funeral at Milan Cathedral, following his assassination on the steps of his Miami beach mansion.

A gifted couturier with a flamboyant streak that made his clothes instantly recognisable and iconic, his sister Donatella took on Gianni’s mantle and has continued to ensure the Versace name makes bold statements on the runway.