Versace is one of the biggest fashion brands in the entire world. When you hear the word "Versace," you immediately think of luxury, expense, and status. This has been the outward appearance of the brand for many people. But underneath this shiny veneer lies many dark secrets. The story of the Versace family is a lot more than just designing clothes, attending fashion shows, and rubbing shoulders with A-list celebrities. This is a story of intrigue, family infighting, and murder. It's pretty much the Game Of Thrones of the fashion world.
While a lot of big names like Gigi Hadid like to associate themselves with the Versace brand, people are now wondering how long the company's prestige and status will last. The company is losing money and is in a really bad state. People aren't buying their clothes anymore. And nobody on the Versace team is quite sure what to do about it. It seems like this company can't go 5 minutes without getting into some kind of controversy, and this definitely doesn't help things either.
Of course, the biggest blow came when Gianni Versace was shot dead on the step of his Miami home. With his death, the Versace family and brand fell apart in an instant, with Gianni's siblings spending his money irresponsibly and falling into drug addiction. But his death is still raising questions, and people are still talking about its strange circumstances to this day. One thing's for sure - the Versace family definitely doesn't want these secrets to be read by anyone.
15 Allegations Of Connection With The Mafia
As you probably know, Versace is an Italian brand. And there are probably two things that the Italians are best known for: fashion and the mafia. And there are allegations that the Versace family were dabbling in both these stereotypical Italian pastimes at the same time. There have long been rumors and allegations that Gianni Versace and his entire family had connections to the Italian mob - and possibly still do.
Some say that Gianni's parents, who were dressmakers, were forced to pay a tribute to the local mob. Some say that this practice continued even into Gianni's mega stardom. But perhaps the most disturbing rumors about Versace's mob connection involve money laundering. According to several sources, including Mafia members themselves, the Versace brand was used to launder millions of dollars in drug money, and Gianni was dealing with some seriously major players in the mob scene up to his death.
14 Gianni's Killer Was A Strange Man
Speaking of Gianni's death, this event was probably the most shady and most publicized event in the long, twisted history of the Versace family. It really came out of nowhere. Gianni had just finished a walk by his Miami home, when Andrew Cunanan walked up and shot him twice in the head. Gianni was 50 years old at the time, and this was back in 1997. This was obviously a huge blow to the Versace family as well as the brand, and no one could see this tragic event coming.
But who was this Andrew Cunanan? In truth, he was a pretty strange man. By the time he put two bullets in Gianni's head, he had already executed 4 other people across America, and was wanted by the FBI for being one of the most dangerous serial killers still loose. He also allegedly said some pretty strange things leading up to his murder spree. Before he started killing people, he said that if anyone ever infected him with HIV, he would go on a murderous spree to kill everyone he thought was responsible. After he killed Gianni, he shot himself rather than give himself up to the police. Strangely, when his body was examined he was found to be HIV negative.
13 Gianni's Murder Was Allegedly A Hit By The Mafia
Some say that Gianni's murder was actually an assassination. These people claim that Gianni was "whacked" by angry Mafioso bosses who were tired of Gianni's behavior. Apparently, Gianni owed them millions of dollars as a result of their money laundering schemes, loans, and other "offenses" to these Italian crime families. Apparently they had tried and failed to get Gianni to pay them what they demanded, so they resorted to just killing him instead.
But how does the official story of Gianni's death stack up to these wild claims? Well one thing that was actually true is that a dead turtle dove was found next to Gianni's body. Proponents of the Mafia assassination theory say that the dead turtle dove was a "calling card" to let the family know who had committed the crime. But officials say that the turtle dove's corpse was a complete coincidence, and the bird just so happened to be flying by at the time, and just so happened to be struck by a flying bullet fragment. Yeah... Right... Proponents of this theory also say that Andrew Cunanan was the "fall guy" and that the real killers are still walking free.
12 Allegations That Gianni Was HIV Positive
Something else the Versace family definitely don't want anyone knowing about is the state of Gianni's health when he died. There were already growing concerns about Gianni's health, as he had a rare form of inner ear cancer. But he miraculously survived this thanks to a successful chemotherapy treatment. But that wasn't all that was troubling him, some claim. Some say that at the time of Gianni's death, he was HIV positive and slowly dying.
This claim was frowned upon by the rest of the Versace family, who criticized the press and authorities for digging too much into the private life of a respected fashion designer. But there are numerous reports that the coroner found the body to be HIV positive. There are also reports that Gianni was in very poor health when he died. Either way, it's very suspicious that the family made an official request for Gianni's health record never to be revealed.
11 Gianni And Donatella's Sister Died At 12
Say what you like about them, the Versace family has always been incredibly tight-knit. Family is very important in Italian culture, and the Versace family was no different. From birth, all of the Versace siblings were very close. There was Santos, who was Gianni's brother - always very organized and business-minded. Then there was Gianni, the future fashion mega star, who started learning his mother's trade of dressmaking at a very early age. Then there was Donatella, who was a fashionista even at a very young age, dying her hair blonde and wearing her brother's handmade dresses at the tender age of 11.
But there is another Versace sibling that the family never likes to talk about. This is because this sister died a very early and untimely death, which was a huge shock to the family and a major blow to their tight-knit group. This girl was just 12 years of age when she died accidentally from a botched tetanus injection. They will always remember her.
10 Donatella's Drug Addiction
Kids, don't do drugs. Why? Because you really don't want to end up looking like Donatella Versace. This is a pretty clear picture of what drugs can do to you in a mere 20 years. That's right, the picture on the left is from 1997, the picture on the right is from recent years. So what the hell happened to her? Well, she really struggled with drug addiction. Her drug of choice was cocaine, and it completely took over her life in the years following Gianni's death. This was made even worse by the fact that Donatella was supposed to be running the entire company at the time...
She later recovered from her drug addiction, and revealed what this time in her life was really like: "When you use cocaine every day, your brain doesn't work anymore. I was crying, laughing, crying, sleeping—I couldn't understand when I was talking; people couldn't understand me … I was aggressive; my voice was always high. I was scaring [my family] to death; my children were petrified of me."
9 Gianni Had Actually Met His Killer Before
There's just something about Gianni's death that doesn't quite make sense. It seems like something is missing - something strange that the family is keeping under wraps. Gianni's relatives get extremely angry when anyone writes a book about this tragic event or a news story. But perhaps the most relevant thing today is the recent TV shows that have been made about Gianni's death, or the film that was shown at Cannes. All of the weirdness comes back to Andrew Cunanan... Just what was going on between these two people?
There are rumors that state that Andrew Cunanan and Gianni Versace did in fact meet each other before Gianni was killed. This was allegedly at a fashion event, although these rumors have never been confirmed. What is true, however, is that Andrew Cunanan was a "high class male prostitute," and that Gianni was openly gay. Could it be that these two had relations before Gianni's death, and that there was some type of issue that came out of this?
8 The Company Was About To Go Public
Another strange thing about Gianni's death was that it happened right before Gianni was scheduled to take the company public and trade it on the stock market. This is important for several reasons. First of all, Gianni was taking the company public because he desperately wanted to get his family's hands off his fashion brand. He allegedly didn't want them to control it, and was going to sell it and let it trade on the stock market. This meant that the family would no longer have any control or involvement in the business, something that would have angered some of his family members, especially his siblings.
There is also the fact that he left half of the company's stocks to his favorite niece, Allegra Versace. Could it be that someone was angry that most of the fortune was going to a little girl? Or maybe someone couldn't wait to get that inheritance money. Either way, it seems a little strange that he died just days before the company was scheduled to go public.
7 Versace Accused Of Racism
It seems that Versace is wrought with scandals from the highest echelons of its leaders to the lowest rungs on the ladder. That was brought to the world's attention when an employee at an American Versace store claimed that he was instructed to say a code word when a black person entered the store, in order to "warn" the manager. When this employee raised objections to this racist behavior, the manager fired him after a few weeks, an act the employee believes was based on his race, which was mixed.
In response, spokespeople for the fashion brand made this statement: "Versace believes strongly in equal opportunity, as an employer and a retailer. We do not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, national origin or any other characteristic protected by our civil rights laws. We have denied the allegations in this suit, and we will not comment further concerning pending litigation."
6 Versace Threatens Its Competitors
Versace does not like competition. Such was made clear when Versace was accused of "bullying" and "intimidating" another much smaller brand for moving in on its turf. The fashion brand that was allegedly threatened by Versace is called "Versace 1969 Abbigliamento Sportivo," and is based in Milan. This fashion line was started in 2001 by a man called Alessandro Versace, who has no relation to Gianni Versace, and their similarity in name is just a coincidence. But that didn't stop Versace from threatening to sue the small fledgling company, and harassing those retailers that chose to carry the brand, often shortened to just "Versace 1969."
So the Versace 1969 brand is now suing the main Versace brand in a battle it can certainly not win. But you know what they say, any publicity is good publicity, and this small brand seems to be doing well. But they are now saying that Versace's intimidation and threats towards their business partners has caused them monetary losses...
5 Their Controversial Ad Campaign
Versace is pretty much always making the headlines, and not always for good reasons. The fashion giant's latest controversy is due to an ad campaign they've recently run with their model of choice, Gigi Hadid. This blonde starlet was snapped in various poses while recreating a fake family scene. Versace publicists said they wanted to recreate a scene of an everyday family, and show how their fashion can be implemented on the streets, not just on the runway.
But as soon as these images were seen by the public, they became very controversial. At first glance, it's tough to figure out why. I guess we live in a world where everything is sensationalized and sparks moral outrage. So what was it about this ad campaign that was so controversial? First of all, that little black baby is in chains for some reason. Maybe not the best idea for a race that was enslaved in the past. Then you have the fact that Gigi is posing as the "mom" of a kid who looks to be about 8 or 9 - meaning she would have given birth to him when she was 16... People are saying that this is promoting an "unrealistic" vision of a family.
4 J.Lo Had To Tape Up The Famous Grammy Dress
Of all the Grammy dresses out there, probably the most famous was the Jennifer Lopez Grammy dress. This wasn't the first dress she wore to the Grammys but it was definitely the most popular. And guess who designed it? That's right, Versace. To be exact, it was actually Donatella's pet project, and she admitted later that it solidified her career as a successful designer and gave her the confidence she needed to succeed in the industry. This dress was such a huge hit that Google's Image Search feature had to be invented to handle all the people searching for images of her wearing this thing.
And it's not hard to see why everyone was so obsessed with this dress. It was unbelievably sexy, and showed off more of J. Lo's cleavage than anyone thought was humanly possible. But there was actually a major secret regarding this dress. As Donatella herself admits, the dress had a tendency to fall apart, and J Lo herself complained to Donatella that it was "too open." Donatella urged her to use fashion tape to keep all her bits covered up, and J. Lo went with this plan, taping everything together. Donatella later admitted that there was something wrong with the dress. But just imagine if J. Lo had never worn it?
3 Versace Isn't Making As Much Money As It Can
You may not see it from behind the shiny veneer of this luxury fashion brand, but Versace's numbers are far from what they used to be. Ever since Gianni died, things have in truth been falling apart - and their profits are going steadily down as a result.
An analyst recently admitted: “Versace’s brand awareness across the world is far higher than the actual sales of the company. There is big untapped potential which can be converted into sales, boosting brand image through memorable marketing campaigns, introduction of iconic and desirable new products, and the opening of new stores. Therefore, the company can be an interesting acquisition target."
A Versace executive looks back at the so-called "luxury brand boom" of the 2000s, and admits that Versace did very poorly: "Their numbers were better. But in a time when everyone else was making extraordinary profits, Versace should have been the biggest of the luxury booms, not the smallest."
2 Versace Is Losing Popularity
And at the end of the day, is Versace even popular anymore? This is perhaps the one secret that no one on the Versace team wants anyone to find out: No one is buying Versace anymore. Ever since Gianni died, everything has been falling apart. He was not only the glue that held everything together, but seemingly the only one in the Versace family who had real talent when it came to fashion. It definitely didn't help that his family spent his money faster than they could make it, and drove his beloved brand pretty much into the ground.
Rappers and such still talk about Versace and wear their products, but you can't make money selling to only rappers. The truly fashion-conscious people of the world are moving on to bigger, better or more interesting brands, leaving Versace behind. Several major fashion retail giants have recently dropped Versace's line from their stores. And new brands are always popping up, ready to show Versace that they can't rely on brand name recognition for much longer...
1 Versace Can't Decide On A Successor
So what does Versace do about this crisis they're facing? It should be pretty obvious by now. They need to hand their company over to someone who knows what they're doing. But is Donatella really ready to step down? Some say that she's too power-hungry to give the reins to someone else, but unless she wants Versace to sink, she better hand over the steering to someone else, and fast. But right now the biggest problem she's facing is who to pick. The fact that she's taking a very long time to decide leads many to think that she doesn't want to step down at all...
Virgil Abloh, Ricardo Tisci, Olivier Rousteing, and Kim Jones have all been rumored to be candidates to replace Donatella. Blackstone Group, a private equity firm, injected hundreds of millions of dollars into the fashion company in return for a 20% stake in the company. Some say that their executives are pressuring Donatella to step down because they want to see more profits from the company they just invested in.