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DVD Review: Gianni Versace: His Final Hours

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On the morning of July 14, 1997 Gianni Versace awoke early. He had come home to Florida after a successful showing of his latest collection in Paris. He was also in the process of doing something that no other designer before him had done. His design house, The House of Versace, was going to be the first fashion design company ever to be listed on both the Milan and New York Stock Exchanges simultaneously. As the sun rose on another beautiful day in South Beach, Gianni Versace was already on the phone with New York.

gianni_versace_blogcritics_dead_crushVersace and his partner of 14 years, Antonio D'Amico, had come home to Casa Casuarina, a run-down mansion in Miami Beach they had bought and renovated, to relax and celebrate. Versace, who had been ill previously, promised D'Amico that he would take a break from business when they arrived home, not an easy thing for this designer who had worked his way from his mother's small dress shop in southern Italy to the glittering, haute couture runways of Milan, New York, and Paris.

As the clock began ticking on the last 24 hours of his life, Versace wrapped up his business with New York and he and D'Amico began to settle into what had become their normal Miami Beach routine. As was their custom they left the house on foot and walked the streets of South Beach, stopping for coffee and picking up the weekly fashion magazines at their usual haunt, News Cafe. They then walked along the beach talking and making plans together.

versace_d_amico_blogcritics_reviewGianni loved South Beach for just this reason. Although he always attracted attention, here it wasn't uncomfortable. He and Antonio could truly relax and enjoy each other's company. No one bothered them, they didn't need bodyguards as they did everywhere else they went. Here they fit in; just another gay couple in the midst of a population of gay couples. Unbeknownst to either of them, on that day they did have someone's attention. They were being followed, their every movement watched, by a man who had already murdered four people — and who had every intention of making Gianni Versace his fifth victim.

Gianni Versace: His Final Hours, part of the Final 24 series released by MVD Entertainment Group, documents not only the life and death of the world renowned fashion icon, but also delves into the secret, sadistic world of the man who murdered him.

Andrew Cunanan had crossed paths with Versace at a party in 1990. From that chance meeting Cunanan had developed an obsessive fixation on the designer. He created an entire fantasy life out of a one-time run-in with the fashion mogul. What had, in fact, really happened on that night was an introduction and few minutes of polite chatter. Cunanan then attempted to situate himself into Versace's entourage for the evening, but he was never able to get close to the designer again. He was sent away with an explanation that the party was too large for their dinner accommodations. This he took as an affront. Seven years later Andrew Cunanan had come to South Beach for the sole purpose of killing the man who he felt had slighted him. He had settled a few other scores along the way as well.

After his first meeting with Versace, Cunanan began to hustle sex for drugs and money. As the sex got rougher and the drugs got harder his grip on reality and fantasy began to cross dangerously until, convinced that he had AIDS, he decided that he had nothing to lose anymore. He went on a murderous rampage over a three-month period that landed him in the headlines of papers and TV programs across the country. He was added to the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. By the time he was done the entire world would know his name and his face.

gianni_versace_dvd_reviewAndrew Cunanan shot Gianni Versace to death on the steps of Casa Casuarina on the morning of July 15, 1997. He shot him in the head from behind. Versace never saw him coming. Cunanan himself died of a single self-inflicted gunshot to the head on July 23. He did not have AIDS.

Versace: His Final Hours features commentary from Antonio D'Amico, Versace supermodel Janice Dickinson, fashion writer Joan Juliet Buck, Vulgar Favors author Maureen Orth, along with Versace's friends Doretta Palazzi and Lazaro Quintana, and Cunanan's friend Anthony Dabiere.

It covers Cunanan's murders in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New Jersey along with his motives. It also tells a story that few know; even as the police and FBI were conducting a full-blown manhunt, not one of their 3,000 Most Wanted fliers had been posted in South Beach. Documents containing Cunanan's thumbprint, name, and his correct address in South Beach had been turned in to an investigator — who then left on vacation. They were sitting, still on his desk, when Versace was shot to death. But for these mistakes Gianni Versace might never have died.


Previously in the Final 24 review series:
Janis Joplin: Her Final Hours
Keith Moon: His Final Hours

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  • I always found the death of Gianni Versace to be particularly sad, in a world crammed with sad deaths. The irony of Cunanan choosing that time and place is overwhelming. Fascinating review, GG.