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Versace’s Mix Of Talent And Timing

Designer Gianni Versace is being mourned by the fashion industry as a fallen titan. Before Versace, there were no supermodels, no celebrities at shows and in advertising, no screaming fans. Fashion was not entertainment , it cheap louis vuitton bags from china was merely clothes.

Versace was 31 years old when he launched his signature collection in 1978. It was an almost immediate success. Over time, his work was celebrated not only in fashion annals for its brashness but also in museums because of the ways it reflected the culture and re energized the Old World artistry of the petite mains, or seamstress of the couture.

He headed a family run company that includes men’s and women’s wear, fragrances, accessories, housewares, books and a planned cosmetics line and that had worldwide sales estimated at $550 million for 1996.

Versace learned about the fashion business from his mother while growing up in Reggio di Calabria, in the south of Italy. She was a dressmaker and ran a boutique. His father was an appliance salesman. In 1972 Versace moved to Milan, where he joined a creative cadre of freelance designers. That was the way things worked back then. Designers were journeymen of a sort, working for whatever fashion house was in need of their services. Versace worked for labels like Callaghan, Complice and Genny.

Those who were part of the industry at the time remember that he made a strong impact in Milan with those early collections. Observers knew that Versace was someone to watch. When he started his own line, without substantial outside backing, he surrounded himself with his family. His older brother Santo was the financial wizard. His sister, Donatella, was his muse, his sounding board, the fire starter and later, within the entertainment industry, a rainmaker.

Versace broke away from a relatively small pack of upstarts in Milan.

He was helped along by Italian textile mills, which tend to function in collaboration with Italian designers to create a national fashion cheap replica handbags industry. Cooperation between fabric producers and designers can include jointly developing fabrics and benevolent dealmaking. Versace was also helped along by the French.

As he was just getting started, 1:1 replica handbags retailers were becoming disenchanted with Paris. The French were said to be notoriously difficult to work with. One retailer told of spending hours poring over a complicated clothing order at the Chloe showroom in Paris and fumed that he was never so much as offered a Fake Louis Vuitton Replica Bags glass of water. Perfect Quality Louis Vuitton Replica “Italians high quality replica handbags china , through their generosity of spirit and business sense, outsmarted the French.”

Back then, the field of designers wasn’t so crowded. Today, anyone with a dream and bolt of fabric thinks it’s possible to launch a collection. The schedule of New York ready to wear shows often is jammed with barely known names who put clothes on the runway that still have threads hanging from the fake designer bags hem. And even well known designers like Frenchman Christian Lacroix, who has backing from the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, and American Isaac Mizrahi, with an infusion of money from Chanel, have struggled to achieve profitability.

“Now everyone who thinks they have talent want their own collection. It’s become a very cutthroat environment…. Today, all these financial problems come because somebody works for one or two years for a house and then they go out on their own. [Designers] have proliferated until no one can make a living,” says Ernest Marx, president of Saks Jandel, which sold the Versace line when it was first launched. “They didn’t have all that competition in the ’60s and ’70s…. In the early days, you had a few designers that had talent and they were basically the only boys on the block.”

Versace was one of the last to stake a claim before the industry exploded. And thanks to an early advantageous apprenticeship cheap louis vuitton bags from china , he had financial smarts the Achilles’ heel of many designers.

He had the good fortune of having worked with business savvy Donatella Girombelli, owner of the Italian manufacturing powerhouse that includes Genny and Complice. And he had his brother Santo, who at an early age had worked in their father’s bookkeeping office.

Once Luther asked Versace why he never wore ties even though he made them for his menswear line. “I remember he said, ‘I make ties because my brother needs them to sell.’?

“He really understood the difference between what you needed to do to run a business,” Luther says, “and what he needed and wanted personally.”

For those who only have a passing interest in fashion a glimpse of a runway show on television, a quick flip through replica louis vuitton bags a replica designer handbags magazine it cheap louis vuitton bags from china might seem that Versace designed Designer Louis Vuitton Replica Handbags only the most extreme garments, things that only a rock star or movie star would dare wear. And indeed, his first collections, the ones that so impressed the media, were hard edged, audacious, even rough. In a way, they were “bad designs,” says Kal Ruttenstein, fashion director of Bloomingdale’s. “He did strong, unsubtle shoulders on leather jackets…. But Gianni developed and grew as a designer the more he associated with people like [Vogue editor] Anna Wintour and his sister, who’s such a blonde bombshell. He took people like her into consideration in his designs.”

The hard edges, the bondage inspired collections, though, got him press. It lured the actors and the rock stars. They in turn created the magnetic pull that attracted other customers wealthy socialites, Young Turks and regular folks who loved flashy clothes and had the money to spend on them.

“He had a crowd. The first crowd he hit was his own countrymen,” says longtime friend Polly Allen Mellen, creative director of Allure. “He brought a wonderful sense of showmanship to clothes. Then he hit a younger crowd and they hungered for his clothes.”

Versace understood the importance of marketing. He loved celebrities and knew that they not only attracted the attention of the press, but they also helped to set trends. In 1992, he designed the stage costumes for Elton John’s world tour. He surrounded himself with superstars from Madonna to Sylvester Stallone. He knew that their images were global. And Versace was looking to create strongholds not just in Europe and the United States, but also in Japan, the Middle East and South America.

“As far as we could see, they were very organized, very driven by growth and growth in new categories,” says Neva Hall, who for five years headed up Neiman Marcus’s couture and designer high quality replica handbags china sportswear division. “They were marketing savvy…. The company was very exposed in the media all the time. It had quick name recognition.”

Versace had an unmistakable style. And that’s what every designer needs in order to succeed. Whether its the subtle slouch of Giorgio Armani, the interlocking C’s and quilted purses of Chanel or the Yankee tweeds of Ralph Lauren, customers buy designer clothing because of what it conveys to those around them.


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