Versace is one of the most recognizable fashion houses today. The house’s history begins in 1976 when Santo Versace joined his brother Gianni in Milan. Together with their sister Donatella, they opened a boutique on Milan’s Via Della Spiga in 1978. The boutique sold Gianni’s designs. By September of that year, the siblings launched their menswear line.
The line was soon followed by the house’s first fragrance, Gianni Versace, in 1981. That decade saw the Versace house shoot to fame with Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson wearing their clothes in the video for Say, Say, Say, regular appearances on the hit TV series Miami Vice, Bruce Springsteen wearing their designs during the Born in the U.S.A tour, and Sean Penn wearing a Versace suit as he married Madonna.
Their success continued into the 1990s with new innovative designs and beautiful clothes and accessories continuously being produced.
Valentino is another famous Italian fashion house. It was established by Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani. Even as a boy, Valentino loved fashion and had an eye for detail, insisting on wearing the best quality clothes. As soon as he finished high school, Valentino moved to Milan to study fashion design. He later moved to Paris to continue his studies. He worked as an apprentice and sketcher until his move back to Italy in 1959. Once back home, Valentino opened his first couture studio with the help of his father.
The first studio, however, was not a success as Valentino’s tastes were extravagant, and he nearly went bankrupt. Success only came once he opened a studio in Rome with Giancarlo Giammeti in 1961. One of their first customers was Elizabeth Taylor. In fact, Taylor wore a white toga designed by Valentino to the Italian premiere of Spartacus. Their relationship continued, and Valentino dressed Taylor on many occasions.
The 1962 collection was a great hit, and Valentino’s career really took off from then on. In 1968, Jacqueline Kennedy wore a long-sleeved dress from Valentino’s all-white spring collection when she married Aristotle Onassis. The photos of the wedding proved extremely popular and sparked a slew of orders.
In 1969, the house launched its menswear line and extended into ready to wear lines. These were soon followed by fur and accessories lines. By 1985, the house had both a fragrance and a denim line. The denim line proved so popular that they could not handle the crowds. It is estimated that one million pairs were sold. In 1987, the house launched its first handbag line.