BOOK REVIEW by George Matlock:
Gianni Versace: Fashion's Last Emperor
Author: Lowri Turner
Published Nov.4, 1997 by Chameleon Books, part of Andre Deutsch, London
£14.99, hardback, 128 pages
Gianni may not have invented Elton John, who was a regular customer of the fashion supremo, but he certainly invented the Supermodel.
One of his first such creations was Jerry Hall, who was already strutting on the catwalk for him in 1982.
There will be many books on Versace to emerge in the next 18 months, but this is one actually worth buying. For the Elton fan, it has the right balance of information and glossy colour photos. It captures a brief (but therefore not tiresome) synopsis of his life, his childhood and professional life.
"Style makes sense only if it is your own," Gianni once said, and this book is accurate right up to photos from Versace's Autumn/Winter 1997 collection, still his own work, before his untimely and senseless death last July.
The book's strength is that it's a history lesson in everything Versace, with rare photos to complete. It's less useful to students of fashion, or those seeking a heavy critique of Gianni's work.
Pictures of customers like Diana, Princess of Wales, Elton and Madonna are here, although I failed to spot Liz Hurley's famous safety pin dress among the 50-plus photos here. The book is a celebration of Gianni's life and includes one of the last photos of him taken in Florence in June 1997, but inevitably it mentions his murder, and shows Elton mourning in Milan.
Gianni was born in Reggio de Calabria, southern Italy.
With a host of dazzling dresses on show, this book should appeal to anyone still wondering why Elton shaped his image on Gianni.