While doing some post-holiday organizing the other day, I came across a box of old photos. Maybe it's just me, but I can't help but stop whatever I'm doing to sift through memories of days gone by. This particular box was a hodgepodge containing anything from my senior picture in high school, a shot of me with a college boyfriend and an old swim team photo.
cover of the book; VERSACE: SIGNATURES, c. 1993
Then I saw them -- a few fuzzy polaroids I had snapped with what was most likely a disposable camera (this was way before the age of digital). The blurred figure of the late designer Gianni Versace stirred up a flurry of emotions.
I know these pictures are terrible! But, take my word, it's Gianni.
I remembered seeing the great man discuss the world of fashion in an auditorium of starstruck students while I was attending F.I.T. And I remembered liking him -- a lot. He spoke with sincerity and passion. He made me feel like nothing was impossible or out of reach. And he was NICE.
I don't know what I had expected; maybe a pretentious, pompous, rich narcissist? Actually, I don't think I had any preconceived notions of the talented designer, I just wanted to see him. He happened to be one of my idols at the time; his magazine campaigns pretty much served as my wallpaper along with Ferre, Montana and Mugler.
awesome supermodels of the 80's (including Iman, Kelly LeBrock, Kim Alexis and Andie MacDowell) -- all wearing Versace
After Versace spoke to the students, he generously handed out his new book to each and every person who attended the event. Being young and dumb, as college students often are, I didn't wait in line to have him sign it. I KNOW!!! What the hell was I thinking? Well, at least I still have the book and the memories.
a shot of Versace's famously exquisite silk print shirts and exquisite male models!
Just five short years later, news that the brilliant designer was gunned down in front of his Miami Beach mansion crushed me like a ton of bricks. I guess it was my JFK moment -- I remember exactly where I was when I found out. Sitting at my desk in 499 Seventh Avenue, I closed the door to my office so that the tears could trickle down my cheeks in private. He may be gone, but his words of encouragement stick with me to this day.