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: paperpursuits.com.

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: styleregistry.com.

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: styleregistry.com.

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.

Gianni Versace for Genny and Complice: Vogue Patterns

detail of Vogue 2080 - late '70s pattern by Gianni Versace for Complice

This month marks 15 years since the death of Gianni Versace. This week’s post will be the first of two on Versace sewing patterns, in memory of the late designer.

photo and biography of Gianni Versace from pattern envelope flap

Before he founded his own company, Gianni Versace (1946–1997) was the designer for the Milanese brands Genny, Complice, and Callaghan, and his first boutique sold his designs for those labels. These editorial images from L’Officiel, photographed at the Tivioli showroom in Milan, show designs from all three, as well as Versace’s new label:

Gianni Versace for Complice / Gianni Versace for Callaghan; Gianni Versace. Editorial, Spring 1979
Left: Gianni Versace for Complice and Gianni Versace for Callaghan. Right: Gianni Versace. L’Officiel, February 1979. Photo: Michel Picard. Image: jalougallery.com.
Gianni Versace and Gianni Versace for Genny - Spring 1979
Gianni Versace and Gianni Versace for Genny. L’Officiel, February 1979. Photo: Michel Picard. Image: jalougallery.com.

The earliest Versace sewing patterns are drawn from the designer’s work for Genny and Complice. Vogue Patterns welcomed Versace to their designer licensees in 1978, the year he founded his business:

Viva Versace Vogue Patterns November/December 1978
VIVA, VERSACE! Versace in Vogue Patterns, November/December 1978. Image: Etsy.

(The headline reads, “Viva, Versace! Welcome to Vogue’s world! Gianni Versace, the Milanese master of fashion, opens exciting vistas into your sewing life.”)

Vogue Patterns’ first four Versace patterns were designs for Genny and Complice, two from each label.

Genny

Rosie Vela wears Genny by Versace on the cover of Vogue Patterns magazine, 1978.
Vogue 2025 by Versace for Genny on the cover of Vogue Patterns, November/December 1978. Photo: Albert Watson. Model: Roseanne Vela. Image: Make Mine Vogue.

Versace was the designer for Genny, a label owned by the Girombelli family, from 1973. Vogue 2025 (also shown in the “Viva, Versace” photo above) is an ensemble consisting of a pleated blouse or tunic, tapered pants, and pleated cummerbund:

1970s Gianni Versace for Genny pattern Vogue 2025
Vogue 2025 by Gianni Versace for Genny (1978)

The cummerbund is tucked rather than pleated in Vogue 2026, an evening suit that also includes a short, double-breasted jacket with contrast lapels, bias camisole, and sheer skirt with shaped front hemline:

1970s Gianni Versace for Genny evening suit pattern Vogue 2026
Vogue 2026 by Gianni Versace for Genny (1978)

Here’s the Vogue 2026 evening suit made up in white for a 1979 editorial:

Vogue 2025 by Gianni Versace for Genny in Vogue Patterns, Jan/Feb 1979
Vogue 2025 by Gianni Versace for Genny, Vogue Patterns, January/February 1979. Photo: Arthur Elgort. Model: Michelle Stevens. Image: The Fashion Spot.

Complice

Complice was a line Gianni Versace developed for the Girombellis. Vogue 2048 looks forward to the Eighties silhouette with its loose dress or top with standing band collar and slim, tapered pants. As the envelope says, “Purchased belt forms desired blouson”:

1970s Gianni Versace for Complice pattern Vogue 2048
Vogue 2048 by Gianni Versace for Complice (1978) Image: PatternVault shop.

Vogue 2080 is a military-style ensemble consisting of pleated, tapered pants and a blouse with standing collar, button epaulets, and contrast piping trim:

1970s Gianni Versace for Complice pattern Vogue 2080
Vogue 2080 by Gianni Versace for Complice (1978) Image: PatternVault shop.

Update: this Complice design was also photographed by Patrick Demarchelier for the cover of Vogue Patterns:

Vogue 2080 by Versace for Complice photographed by Patrick Demarchelier for the cover of Vogue Patterns, 1979
Vogue 2080 by Versace for Complice on the cover of Vogue Patterns, January/February 1979. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier. Model: Karen Bjornson. Image: Make Mine Vogue.

Just for fun, here are some Versace for Complice campaign images. Guy Bourdin was the photographer for Complice campaigns during this period. These first two, very Interview with the Vampire images are from August 1977:

Gianni Versace for Complice campaign photographed by Guy Bourdin, Vogue Paris, August 1977
Gianni Versace for Complice campaign, Fall 1977. Photo: Guy Bourdin. Image: Black Album.
Gianni Versace for Complice campaign photographed by Guy Bourdin, Vogue Paris, August 1977
Gianni Versace for Complice campaign, Fall 1977. Photo: Guy Bourdin. Image: Black Album.

This one I’m not sure of the date:

Gianni Versace for Complice campaign image by Guy Bourdin
Gianni Versace for Complice campaign. Photo: Guy Bourdin. Image: guybourdin.net.

You can see more Guy Bourdin/Versace for Complice photos here.

Next: Vogue patterns by Gianni Versace.