5 Firsts Gianni Versace Contributed To Fashion

Photo: Dave M. Bennett/Getty Images.
Long before designers were iconic brands independent of their “day jobs,” there was Gianni Versace, an Italian man who, as The New York Times so elegantly wrote in his obituary in 1997, “brought rock, art, sexuality, and brilliant color into contemporary fashion.” Without question, the renewed interested in his story is thanks in part to the The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. But beyond the excessive '90s glamour of Ryan Murphy's latest production, which focuses on the designer’s death, there are few points of his life worth revisiting. Specifically, Versace’s contributions to the fashion industry, which changed the way it operates forever.
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''He 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,'' Anna Wintour told The New York Times of the designer’s genius at the time of his death in 1997. ''He relished media attention and masterminded it, and everybody followed in his footsteps.''
It’s no wonder Versace, the brand, brought together Gianni’s girls to recreate one of the defining moments of the designer’s legacy: Carla Bruni, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford (her daughter Kaia, too!), and Helena Christensen sported the label’s bold prints for its spring 2018 collection in September, which honored 20th anniversary of his death. And though the Versace family maintains FX’s show is nothing a work of pure fiction, there are five firsts Gianni Versace mastered; things that seem so normal now, but were revolutionary during his heyday.
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First Designer To Make Models Into Personalities

“Before [Gianni], I don’t think many designers let models have personality, nor after. The models should wear the clothes, be very serious, not smile, look in front of you, almost no soul,” his sister Donatella Versace told The Guardian in December. "This was totally opposite: it was about the girls, what the girls were thinking, who they were dating. It wasn’t just about the clothes, but about who was wearing the clothes.” Thus putting the “super” in supermodel.
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First Designer To Have Celebrities Sit Front Row

“As much as Mr. Versace invented in fashion itself, he altered the presentation of the art completely. The first designer to tap into the publicity machine that the fashion show of today has become, he filled his front row with celebrity faces,” The New York Times wrote in 1997. Front row favorites included Elton John and Madonna.
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One Of The First Designers To Cast Celebrities In Ad Campaigns

The same celebrities who would sit front row at Versace’s fashion shows were often tapped for what The New York Times refers to as “high-profile advertising campaigns shot by Richard Avedon, Bruce Weber, Herb Ritts, and Helmut Newton.”
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One Of The First Designers To Link Fashion And Music

Gianni Versace regularly “commissioned music for his shows from performers like the Artist (formerly known as Prince), who sang about ‘The Versace Experience,’ and he distributed limited edition compact disks to his audience,” The Times recalls.
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First Designer To Live 'Squad Goals'

Long before Taylor Swift was touting ‘squad goals’ on Instagram, Gianni Versace lived a truly glamorous life with celebrities, movie stars, and moguls, often bringing them all together for dinner parties. As The Times notes, “Mr. Versace was so intrigued by whatever was going on in the world that he embraced many celebrities at the height of any controversy, providing a safe house for those with a battered image — Mike Tyson, the Princess of Wales, Soon Yi Previn and Woody Allen.”
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