Gianni Versace was a fashion rock star. The degree to which fashion and pop culture have become synonymous is due in great part to his work: he was a true innovator who masterfully spun fashion into a form of artistic performance, glamorous and theatrical, sexy and celebrity driven.
Versace’s superstar image, however, wasn’t guided solely by a taste for unconventionality. He was indeed a master designer, fueled by fearless passion for his craft and an appreciation of classical art and architecture, which he used to redefine the fashion world.
Hellenic heritage and mythology were among Gianni Versace’s muses. He was born, after all, in Reggio di Calabria in Southern Italy, part of the region once known as Magna Graeca or Great Greece. The Greeks colonized Magna Graeca many centuries ago, and in doing so left an indelible imprint of Greek culture and tradition, much of which endures to this day.
Those early years in Reggio di Calabria may be where Versace first became aware of the Medusa head: it is featured on the flag of neighboring Sicily in a silhouette that bears semblance to Versace’s own portrayal of the mythical character. But it was the deeper symbolism of Medusa that compelled Versace to adopt the figure as the central image of the Versace logo.
Who Was Medusa?
Medusa was one of the three Gorgons in classical Greek mythology, and the only one who was mortal. The most familiar rendition of her story is this: the young, golden-haired and beautiful Medusa caught the eye of the god Poseidon who, on impulse, decided to ravish the maiden in the temple of another god, Athena. Unfortunately for Medusa, Athena caught them in the act. In a fit of rage and jealousy, Athena turned Medusa into a hideous monster with serpent hair. So ghastly was Medusa that anyone who looked upon her face turned to stone. This is how Medusa is most commonly portrayed and remembered, and why she is most often associated with anger and evil.
Gianni Versace’s Medusa
Gianni Versace’s incarnation of Medusa is based on a more alluring representation of the legendary mortal, where Medusa is suggestive of power, strength and beauty that constitutes a propitious sense of the mythology. The Versace Medusa head, as it appears in the brand’s logo, is an expression of Versace’s vision: she encompasses Versace’s taste for tradition and classical nuance along with his desire to astonish audiences with designs that are striking in their brilliance, originality and style.
Versace Medusa Head Logo
The Versace Medusa head logo features the head of Medusa at its center portrayed as a beautiful woman with a supernatural aura. Rather than snakes for hair, the Versace logo depicts Medusa at a time when her golden hair overflowed. Her beauty is apparent in her proportional features and fulsome lips, but her eyes remain hollow, her intentions ambiguous.
Medusa’s head is encircled by a ring of Greek keys –- decorative patterns based on single lines that twist like a maze – another quintessential Versace design motif. The name “Versace” is usually printed below the image, although the logo is among the most recognizable in the world, with or without the name. The Medusa head logo appears on all sorts of Versace items including Versace sunglasses, Versace pendants, Versace writing instruments and Versace timepieces.
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Gianni’s younger sister, Donatella Versace, took over the brand’s creative direction after Gianni’s death in 1997. A creative and strategic powerhouse in her own right, Donatella wanted to ensure the Versace brand was poised to flourish in the 21st century. She streamlined certain areas of Versace design while expanding and diversifying the overall product line. Donatella rejuvenated the Versus Versace line to fulfill the yearnings of Versace’s younger audience and she expanded the Versace reach in accessories, including Versace timepieces and Versace writing instruments.
Versace, A New Mythology
As a creative force, Gianni Versace drew heavily on the inspirations of his upbringing and surroundings, which were permeated with Greek art and mythology. The mythical Medusa became a perfect symbolic figure to represent the Versace brand. She was Gianni’s paradox –- beautiful but frightening, shocking yet enchanting.
Donatella Versace controls the Versace brand with this same spirit of innovative multi-dimensionality, further broadening the definition of Medusa to new and younger audiences as well clientele who grew up with Versace.
The Versace Medusa head logo is a fashion icon that is recognized the world over, enough so that lore of Medusa requires a new definition, outside of Greek mythology, and instead as part of the Versace legend.
About Gevril Group
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