On the morning of July 15, 1997, Gianni Versace, revered fashion designer, left his abode on the sweeping streets of Miami Beach to grab his morning papers via a walk on the famed Ocean Drive.
A 2001 piece in TIME noted in the Versace household, everyone had “regular routines”. This was one of Versace’s: to walk, every morning, four blocks from his home to buy magazines and a coffee. So predictable was the walk, journalist Richard Lacayo wrote it “would be easy for a killer to know”.
Upon his return, as he reached the gates of his mansion, a man named Andrew Cunanan approached him, a .40-caliber pistol pointed at his head.
Versace, just 50 at the time, was dead before he had an opportunity to open the gate of his property, left to bleed on the steps of his own home.
In the space of seconds, one of the most famous figures in fashion, ear to some of the most powerful people in the world, was dead, a multi-million dollar company left in his wake and a family that would mourn him for years to come.
Gianni Versace had a stranglehold on the fashion industry in the 1980s and 1990s and the clothes and models within it. His glitzy, fabulous, sexy style was far from minimalist. Glamour was his bread and butter and his friends were far from ordinary. His skills were his legacy. According to a 2006 New York Magazine profile of his sister Donatella, Gianni Versace was “famously regimented—early to bed, early to rise—and utterly uninterested in alcohol, drugs, partying”.
But the beginning of his life and the end were marked in their comparison. He was born in Reggio Calabria in Italy in 1946, the son of a seamstress who would later introduce the icon to what it meant to put together a piece of clothing.
The end was the subject of a murder investigation, his name strewn across international headlines, the details of his gory, ugly death fodder for public consumption.
Who killed Gianni Versace? And perhaps more perplexingly, why did anyone kill Gianni Versace?
According to CNN, what followed was “one of the most intense manhunts in the nation’s history”.
Eight days after Versace was murdered, the man police were searching for, the man they knew committed the murder – Andrew Cunanan – killed himself via a self-inflicted gunshot to the head inside a Miami houseboat.