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"Fashion designer. Born December 2, 1946 in Reggio di Calabria, Italy. In 1972, Versace moved to Milan, where he began freelance designing for the Italian labels Genny, Callaghan and Complice before launching his own ready-to-wear collection for women in 1978. Known for his glamorous styles, Versace produced a range of siren dresses that became his trademark, often using innovative materials such as aluminum mesh or cutting-edge techniques like "neo-couture" laser technology to fuse leather and rubber.

Versace's illustrious career was decorated with numerous awards, including four L'Occhio d'Oros and an American Fashion Oscar in 1993. Some of his most imaginative creations could be found in theaters; the designer was often applauded for his costume designs for such ballets as Richard Strauss' Josephlegende in 1982, Gustav Mahler's Lieb und Leid in 1983 and Bejart's Chaka Zulu in 1989. In 1987, Versace was awarded with theater's Maschera D'Argento prize. He has also created stage costumes for such pop performers as Elton John, Madonna and Tina Turner.

Versace's designs have been showcased in several museums, including Chicago's National Field Museum, London's Royal College of Art, Japan's Kobe City Museum and Germany's Kunstgewerbemuseum. A skilled businessman, the designer was constantly debuting extensions of his original line. In 1989, he announced the opening of Atelier Versace, a workshop for high fashion models. That same year, he introduced Versus, a contemporary, alternative line for young people. He launched his classic Signature line in 1991 and Home Signature in 1993. He has also published numerous books, including Rock and Royalty, The Art of Being You and Men Without Ties.

On July 15, 1997, 50 year old Versace was murdered in his South Beach home in Miami, Florida. The prime suspect, 27 year old spree killer Andrew Cunanan, was found dead in a Miami Beach boathouse eight days after Versace's murder.

A designer to celebrities and royalty such as Princess Diana, Versace brought vitality and art to an industry considered out of touch with the street. In less than 10 years, he built an empire worth $807 million.

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