Groninger Museum to host Gianni Versace Retrospective: largest-ever exhibition of Italian designer’s work
“That dress” – the one that sparked a media frenzy and made the actress Liz Hurley world-famous overnight – is coming to Groningen. The garment goes on view on 3 December as part of Gianni Versace Retrospective, the largest-ever exhibition of the fashion designer’s work. Never before have so many objects from Gianni Versace’s collections and life been displayed together as in the Groninger Museum’s forthcoming show.
In 1994 an obscure actress named Liz Hurley accompanied the movie star Hugh Grant on the red carpet at the premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral. What was everyone talking about? Not Grant, not the film, but “that dress”. Hurley was wearing a revealing black silk Versace creation with giant gold safety pins up the sides.
The designs of Gianni Versace
According to the exhibition’s curators, Versace experts Karl von der Ahé and Saskia Lubnow, the dress is the ideal garment to illustrate the impact Versace had as a designer. The famous garment is on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Another exhibition highlight is a catwalk showcasing key looks from Versace’s 1991 Freedom collection. The Freedom fashion show turned supermodels Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington into global sensations.
Gianni Versace understood the power of the media better than anyone. He laid the groundwork for the influencers of today. Versace seated celebrities rather than fashion journalists in the front rows at his shows. He also dressed them for red carpet appearances and performances. The rapper 2Pac often wore the designer’s silk shirts on stage and performed at a 1996 Versace show in Milan. Versace’s strategy was hugely effective at reaching a mass audience.
Along with couture pieces, Gianni Versace Retrospective includes books, advertising images, and other objects that show the Italian designer’s versatility and impact. The exhibition is organised around his sources of inspiration. Each gallery has its own unique decor. One, for example, honours 1990s US pop culture and features music by Elton John and art by Andy Warhol, a big source of inspiration for Versace. The designer’s Warhol-inspired pop art dress, complete with screen-printed fabric, will also be on view in the show.
Versace and Alessandro Mendini
Versace and Alessandro Mendini, the Groninger Museum’s architect and a fellow Italian, were contemporaries and likely to have known each other. Both worked in Milan in the 1980s and 1990s, and Versace owned designs by Mendini. In 2005, an auction of objects from Versace’s home in New York included two glass vases designed by his countryman.
About Gianni Versace Retrospective
In Gianni Versace Retrospective, the Groninger Museum brings to life the career of the eccentric Italian fashion designer, one of the most influential couturiers in history. The colourful, daring, emotional exhibition takes visitors inside a world of extravagant garments and lavish catwalk shows where clothes, pop music and design come together in spectacular fashion. Gianni Versace was murdered 25 years ago, but his revolutionary ideas live on in today’s fashion scene.
Gianni Versace Retrospective runs from Saturday 3 December 2022 through Sunday 7 May 2023 at the Groninger Museum.
The exhibition is not official nor authorised or linked to Gianni Versace S.r.l. and/or to the Versace family.
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