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Gianni Versace to be played by Antonio Banderas in biopic

Lauretta Roberts
18 July 2016

The life of Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace, who died 19 years ago, is to be made into a biopic with Hollywood actor Antonio Banderas taking the lead role.

Filming will begin in Milan in December before moving to Reggio Calabria, the southern Italian town where Versace was born, and finally onto Miami, where Versace was killed in 1997 by serial killer Andrew Cunanan.

The house of Versace which is now led by Gianni's sister Donatella has distanced itself from the film which is directed by Bille August. The company told WWD that it had had no involvement in the film and it should therefore be viewed as "a work of fiction".

Versace was born in 1946 and went on to study Latin and ancient Greek, which heavily influenced his later work as a fashion designer - the head of Medusa remains the central image to the brand's logo to this day.

His career in fashion began at Byblos and he established his own label in the late 1970s opening his first store on Milan's Via della Spiga in 1978. Versace was one of the first designers to forge close links with the music industry and his high octane designs were favoured by performers such as Madonna and Elton John.

During the 1990s his catwalk shows were the glitziest in the business and made headlines around the world both inside and outside of the fashion pages. He sent supermodels Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington down the catwalk arm in arm lip-synching to George Michael's Freedom in 1991 and the image endures to this day.


Linda, Cindy, Naomi and Christy in the famous 1991 show

Tragically Versace was shot dead in 1997 near his home in Miami by Andrew Cunanan, who was found dead a few days later from a self-inflicted gun wound. Versace's funeral was attended by royalty, rock stars, fellow fashion designers and models including Princess Diana, Elton John, Sting, Naomi Campbell, Giorgio Armani and Carla Fendi to name just a few.

Following his death Gianni's younger sister took over design for the Italian house which remains a powerful force in fashion to this day.

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