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Places of Fashion: Gianni Versace's Miami Villa

From the location for parties and secrets of the Versace family to luxury hotels with a timeless charm

Places of Fashion: Gianni Versace's Miami Villa From the location for parties and secrets of the Versace family to luxury hotels with a timeless charm

The third most photographed house in America after the White House and Graceland is on Ocean Drive, the street of Miami Beach where Art Deco' buildings and majestic villas stand out one on another. The place was the scene of the cold-blooded murder of its owner, Gianni Versace, the extremely creative designer and sensitive man who immediately got to understand fashion and its mechanisms in the late 80s. After revolutionizing female powerdressing and having appointed Linda Evangelista, Claudia Shiffer, Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell as world’s first top models, he bought the villa in 1992. Versace decided to buy the house  after the bedazzling eye-encounter with the bronze Aphrodite sculture at the entrance, for 32 million dollars. He died on the gate only a few years later, in 1997, at the hands of the young model Andrew Cunanan, as told by the docu-series American Crime Story The Assassination of Gianni Versace. The Villa serves as a background in the most important scenes of the series, and great scenic work has made everything as faithful to the original as possible. The large suites designed and decorated in full Versace style, have over the years hosted FX crew and may other personalities such as Madonna, Princess Diana, Elton John who used to hang with the Versace Family, but in latest times also Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, Jay-Z and Beyonce have rented the entire villa several times for private holidays and parties. Today Villa Casa Casuarina has been adapted to a luxury boutique hotel with an Italian restaurant that with its name pays homage to their former host, Gianni’s. Villa Versace has a captivating and mysterious charm, among the baroque decorations and the 24-carat gold mosaics are hidden many treasures to discover and stories to tell.

 

The building

24 apartments were built on 7010.4 square meters by architect Alden Freedman in 1093, and the space has then been reinterpreted by Versace and his faithful design team in eight bedrooms, two kitchens, 10 bathrooms, a bar, a library and four living rooms.

The designer bought also the adjacent property and attached to Casa Casuarina additional space of 1859 square meters where Terry Scott, Sybil de Bourbon Parme, Wallace Tutt and the designer team have worked in synergy (as already done for the Milanese house and the Villa on Lake Comot), to build the famous pool with the Medusa head, the garden, the terrace and a small cottage for guests. Versace interpreted his personal taste with a strongly Baroque flavor and inspired by Greek-Roman art. "I have my home on Lake Como for reading" he said in an interview, hinting at the desire for fun infused in the Miami Mansion, where its architecture and golden decorations, colorful and opulent, shine without fear of exaggeration, in full Versace style.

 

The Medusa pool

Upon entering the Versace Mansion it is impossible not to notice the majestic mosaic pool, with white marble walls with relief decorations reminiscent of a thermal pool. The pool floor is breathtaking: marble and 24 carat gold tiles created by the Milanese company Fantini Mosaici compose the Marine Vanitas, original print of the Italian brand that decorates classic silk scarves. At the center of the pool reigns supreme the family logo of Medusa, strictly in gold mosaic tiles. Adjacent to the pool the Moroccan showers and the gym of the Villa sing a ode to the cult of the body and beauty. The garden is a lush private eden, where Gianni, Donatella and their circle of famous friends have enjoyed the luxuries and excesses of Miami’s social life, as well reconstructed by American Crime Story and the scandalous chronicles of the early 90s. Today it is a place of worship for fashion enthusiasts, and on Instagram there are so many selfies and souvenir photos posted in front of what is now a monument of Viale Ocean Drive.

 

The suites

The rooms are the pride of the sumptuous villa and about 10, including four suites that the Italian designer has designed for his beloved family all complete with a living room, bedroom with wardrobe and luxurious bathroom. On the first floor overlooking the garden are the elegant Signature Suite designed for his brother Santo, the Azure Suite with touches of powder blue for his nephew Daniel, the Aviary Suite for his granddaughter Allegra and his passion for the world of birds. But the most dreamed is definitely the suite celebrates the muse inspirer of Gianni, the one who embodies the Medusa: the Venus Suite is entirely dedicated to Donatella Versace and decorated as a true Mediterranean castle. The details echo in the Magna Grecia blend with delicate floral frescoes, which mimic a flower garden with a tromp d'oeil that culminates in a sky surrounded by yellow roses just above the huge bed almost 3 meters wide, dominated by cushions with logo. Villa Suite is the current name of the rooms where Gianni Versace stayed, where every corner is decorated with fake books, cared for by a full-time librarian decorator. All the rooms dedicated to the designer’s family have been restored by the current owner to reflect the original style, where the coat of arms chosen by the fashion house reigns supreme in every detail, from the chests of drawers with lion handles to the greek motif that decorates the abatjour.

 

Secret passages and hidden mysteries 

The Villa conceals secrets that after the death of the designer was no longer possible to reveal. The manager of the current luxury boutique hotel confirms that each room had secret passages that connected the rooms one to the others, to facilitate privacy. To date, for obvious reasons, the passages have been closed, but their functionality remains unknown. There is popular talk of a secret tunnel that passes under the mansion next to the monumental pool, and is accessible only through a hidden secret code among the pieces of the huge mosaic of the Medusa in front of the pool, according to Jim Dobson of Forbes and some locals. Another mystery that remained hidden is why Madonna wanted the toilets changed every time she returned to be a guest in the Villa. Surely frescoes and mosaics have seen moments, and in fact they speak for themselves in all their tacit solemn elegance.