Crime & Scandal

20 Years After Versace’s Murder, His Impact on Fashion Endures

July 15, 1997 marks the 20th anniversary of fashion designer Gianni Versace’s murder. But even his untimely death could not put an end to his sartorial vision, which continues to reverberate in all facets of the fashion and entertainment industry.

The Backdrop

On the morning of July 15, 1997, Gianni Versace was opening the gate to his mansion in Miami Beach when Andrew Cunanan, a 27-year-old male prostitute, shot him to death. The 50-year-old fashion designer died instantly. He did not know the perpetrator and was allegedly Cunanan’s fifth victim in a cross-country murder spree. Cunanan would meet his own demise shortly after from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, leaving no explanation about what motivated his senseless acts.

The Impact

Versace’s death devastated the fashion community, and as with all untimely passings that carried the weight of his fame and talents, his contributions to the industry were immersed in retrospective contemplation that was loud, colorful and profound — just like his work.

After all Versace was known for revolutionizing the catwalk with his brash use of color and sexuality. Inspired by the punk era, he incorporated neon colors, graffiti and metal mesh into his sartorial showcases and ushered in the concept of “street-style” haute couture and glamor, now a garden variety on the red carpet.

Versace also realized the powerful relationship between fashion and celebrity — being the first to place Hollywood A-listers in the front row of his shows — as well as fashion and music, using pop stars, like Prince and Madonna, to promote his ad campaigns.

Just as he was a pioneer in making fashion a source of entertainment, it seems he soon will be, too, thanks to FX’s upcoming American Crime Story installment, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, slated for early 2018.

With two decades having come and gone, Versace, his life’s work and now even his death continues to be a point of fascination . . .do you think he’d want it any other way?