Gianni Versace: Facts About the Mansion & the Man April 19 2022

Gianni Versace lived his life like he designed his clothes—in a big way, in a bright way, and in a lavish way.  His home in Miami, Florida (one of many around the world) was Versace in a nutshell.  Called Casa Casuarina, it was built in 1930 and inspired by the family home of Christopher Columbus.  The Versace mansion was purchased in 1992 and made a reported $33 million in improvements—including a pool flanked by a huge mosaic tile medallion with his trademark Medusa head in the center.  Oh, yes & it was lined in 24 karat gold.  Yeah.  Let that sink in for a moment.  Rumor has it the pool was designed in Italy, broken down in pieces, and mailed to the United States where a team of 75 people reassembled it.

The Versace Mansion

Casa Casaurina may have been modeled on the home of an old Italian family and decorated with nods to the past (there were Wedgwood and Italian suites, fine antiques, classically-themed murals on the walls and ceilings), but Gianni Versace eschewed that sense of history in every part of his clothing designs—except his use of the iconic Medusa head.  “I am not interested in the past, except as a road to the future,” he told the New York Times in 1990.  “I want to be a designer for my time.  I love the music, the art, the movies of today.  I want my clothes to express all of this.”

Versace’s clothes were vibrant, loud, and often in-your-face.  His designs were not for the shy and reserved, but worked best on the daring fashionista.  His history started as many other influential designers do—humbly.  His mother (a dressmaker) taught him to sew, and Gianni designed his first dress when he was just nine.  His father wanted him to pursue a career in architecture and surveying—imagine if he had?  The fashion world would have been without an important player—but the architecture world would have been turned upside down.  I’m sure he would have been amazing at it as well!

Vintage GIANNI VERSACE Silk Print Jacket at Rice and Beans Vintage

For all of his inspired designs, awards, and honors, Gianni Versace was tragically shot and killed on the steps of Casa Casaurina after returning from a morning walk by a stranger on a killing spree in July of 1997.  His sister Donatella (who doubled as his muse) took over as designer of the fashion house soon after, but Gianni’s death really begs the question: what if?  What if he was still alive, still designing, and still breaking new ground?

Casa Casaurina—where Versace once entertained the likes of Princess Diana, Richard Avedon, and Madonna—was sold in 2013 for $41.5 million (it had hoped to sell for $125 million)  and will soon re-open as  The Villa By Barton G. a luxury boutique hotel.  Anyone else get the urge to pack their favorite Versace silk jacket and body-con dress and hop on a plane to Miami?  Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Vintage GIANNI VERSACE Aztec Print Velvet Handbag at Rice and Beans Vintage

written by Heather Cox , edited by Sarah Korsiak Cellier