Evening dress

Design House: Gianni Versace (Italian, founded 1978)

Designer: Gianni Versace (Italian, 1946–1997)

Date: spring/summer 1991

Culture: Italian

Medium: silk, glass

Credit Line: Gift of Gianni Versace, 1993

Accession Number: 1993.52.4


Widely influenced by the florid shapes and colors of print artists like Sonia Delaunay and Raoul Dufy, both of whom collaborated with fashion artists during the course of their careers, Gianni Versace frequently referenced art historical and various cultural aesthetic phenomena. His classical allusions range from the inclusion of the Medusa as part of the Versace logo to the Greek key pattern as a frequenter of both men's and women's collections, though an attraction to both Surrealism and Pop Art is equally obvious in his fabric manifestations. This piece, printed with the iconic faces of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, is a testament to Versace's fascination with the ironic and sometimes morbid depictions of Andy Warhol inasmuch as it is an exclusive signifier of Versace's self-proclaimed personality as the celebrity couturier.
Richard Martin explains that Versace designed for a "visually voracious" youth culture (Gianni Versace, 1997). With the designer's smartly executed palettes, clever referential nuances, and flamboyant decorative sensibility, the saturated Versace aesthetic is equal parts intellectually compelling and alarmingly visual. Though the Warhol printed pieces are among Versace's most celebrated, the Milanese designer has also been acclaimed for his sari-constructed safety-pin dresses and bondage-inspired black leather collection of fall/winter 1992–93.