Gianni Versace: Vogue Patterns

Versace campaig for Fall 1980: Janice Dickinson photographed by Richard Avedon.
Versace campaign, Fall 1980. Model: Janice Dickinson. Photo: Richard Avedon. Image:

This is the second of two posts on Gianni Versace’s Vogue patterns. (See the first post, on designs by Versace for Genny and Complice, here.)

Today, Gianni Versace may be best known for his flamboyant prints, colour, and embellishment, and designs that exploit the tactile qualities of materials like leather and metal mesh. Besides being celebrity-friendly, Versace was also a master technician and art connoisseur; his designs make myriad references to art history, especially the classical and baroque. His clothes flatter a woman’s curves; indeed, disliking standard mannequins, he designed his own based on the Venus de Milo.

Vogue’s Versace patterns were released from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. Here is a selection:

Vogue 2168 is a pantsuit and blouse modelled by Karen Bjornson and photographed by Patrick Demarchelier:

1970s Versace suit and blouse pattern Vogue 2168
Vogue 2168 by Gianni Versace (1979) Model: Karen Bjornson. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier. Image: PatternVault shop.

Clotilde models Vogue 2375, the draped trouser ensemble I featured in last year’s disco best-of:

1980s Versace pattern Vogue 2375
Vogue 2375 by Gianni Versace (1980). Image: eBay.

Vogue 2534 is a colour-blocked wrap dress with handkerchief hem. I love the hybrid cami/draped bodice, which ties at the left shoulder:

1980s Gianni Versace handkerchief dress pattern Vogue 2534
Vogue 2534 by Gianni Versace (1980) Photo: Patrick Demarchelier. Image: PatternVault shop.

Here’s the photo that was published in Vogue Patterns magazine; this shoot was also by Patrick Demarchelier:

Gianni Versace handkerchief hem dress photographed by Patrick Demarchelier for Vogue Patterns magazine, July-Augusts 1980
Vogue 2534 by Gianni Versace in Vogue Patterns, July/August 1980. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier. Image: eBay.

(There’s a small size available at Miscellanium on Etsy.) This later campaign image shows Iman in a dress with similar bodice construction:

Versace advertising campaign for Spring 1983: Iman, Lynne Koester, and Lauren Helm photographed by Richard Avedon
Versace campaign, Spring 1983. Models: Iman, Lynne Koester, and Lauren Helm. Photo: Richard Avedon. Image:

Vogue 2702 is a design for harem pants and a lavishly draped tunic with batwing sleeves and pointed back hem:

Vogue 2702 by Gianni Versace: 1980s pattern for a draped tunic, harem pants, and sash
Vogue 2702 by Gianni Versace (1981) Image: PatternVault shop.

Here’s an editorial photo of Vogue 2702 from the holiday issue of the magazine:

Vogue 2702 tunic and pants by Gianni Versace photographed for Vogue Patterns magazine, November-December 1981
Vogue 2702 by Versace in Vogue Patterns, November/December 1981. Image: Patternaholic.

Vogue 2702’s pleated harem pants make me think it could be from Versace’s Spring 1981 collection, shown in this campaign image by Richard Avedon:

Versace Spring 1981 Models Kim Alexis, Kelly LeBrock, Lisa Taylor, Beverly Johnson, and Rosie Vela photographed by Richard Avedon..
Versace campaign, Spring 1981. Models: Kim Alexis, Kelly LeBrock, Lisa Taylor, Beverly Johnson, and Rosie Vela. Photo: Richard Avedon. Image:

As even this small sample of sewing patterns shows, Gianni Versace’s work was sui generis. It’s a special treat that the general period of the designer’s work covered by Vogue patterns yielded collaborations with prominent photographers including Guy Bourdin, Helmut Newton, Patrick Demarchelier, and Richard Avedon. (In 1986, Versace was the subject of a fashion photography exhibition at Paris’ Musée Galliera; see Christopher Petkanas, “A Dialog with Gianni Versace,” WWD, October 22, 1986.) Several of the Versace patterns give fresh takes on classical drapery, showing Versace’s gift for reinterpretation and innovation through a keen engagement with culture—both high and popular.

7 thoughts on “Gianni Versace: Vogue Patterns

  1. Hi Sarah, this comment is long overdue as I had checked out this post on the day it was posted… but anyhow, thank you very much for linking to my Versace pattern in my etsy shop! I never expected it.
    I just love that first photo, not for Janice (I never liked her attitude!) but for that fabulous outfit. I’d never seen that ad before. I wonder how the one-legged pants actually look under the tunic, like high-cut hotpants one side? It’s very cool and unusual, especially for that time.

  2. By the way, I thought you might find this interesting, I’ve attempted my first blog. I must admit that the content will probably be in the same vein as your blog, as I’m obsessed with designer patterns, too. But I will attempt to cover topics that haven’t yet been covered by other blogs. For example, you know how much I love Versace patterns, but I wouldn’t dare do a post on them now that you’ve covered the topic (by the way, is there any chance of a part 3 in the future?). Perhaps you will enjoy looking over my blog in the future as I have yours 🙂

    1. That’s great news about your new blog! The more the merrier, really.
      And please don’t let me stop you from doing a Versace post; you are probably better qualified (!) I hadn’t planned on a part 3, although there are 8 more Versace patterns that I know of. I hope we can look forward to seeing your perspective 🙂

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