Edgar Ramirez stars as Gianni Versace in Ryan Murphy‘s newest FX production, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. The Venezuelan actor has starred in many Hollywood flicks, including Joy, The Girl on the Train, The Bourne Ultimatum, and Zero Dark Thirty — but playing the role of the late, revered Italian fashion designer was unlike playing any other.
I caught up with Ramirez after his Build Series interview in New York. Immediately, I noticed his impeccable, dapper style. The actor wore an olive suit by Italian label Brunello Cucinelli, a stylish checkered shirt by emerging New York designer R. Swiader, and shiny brown brogues by Aquatalia. Although he wasn’t wearing it at the time, Ramirez pointed out his favorite sartorial choice of the day — a clean, minimalist color-block coat by Honduran designer Carlos Campos. Clearly, the actor has some serious style swag.
One might think Ramirez’s fashion sense is in stark contrast to Versace’s bold classicist prints and pop culture-infused designs, but the actor is quick to point out that the two have more in common than you might think.
“He always had one element that always stood out. I relate more to that,” Ramirez tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Even though Versace’s designs were grandiose, in reality when he was not at ‘his fashion show,’ at an event, or frankly in the public eye, his personal style was minimal, often wearing only black and white,” notes Ramirez.
For example, “Like today. It’s my shirt.” He proceeds to show me his triple-button closure at the collar of his mustard and black checkered shirt. If it didn’t have this small design detail, “I wouldn’t wear it.” As the saying goes, “God and the devil, they both live in the details.”
Although the actor was not wearing Versace at Build, “Almost all of Edgar’s costumes were Versace,” costume designer Lou Eyrich tells the New York Post.
But Eyrich had to rely on her creativity and a heavy dose of vintage sourcing to re-create the ’90s-era Versace family wardrobe, as she had to work without the cooperation of the Versace fashion house.
The Versace family recently released a statement to WWD saying the family “has not authorized nor has it in any way been involved in the TV series dedicated to the death of Gianni Versace” and that it is a “work of fiction.”
But of all the Versace fashion the actor did wear, which was his favorite? A vivid striped blue and gold baroque silk shirt he wore for the cover of Entertainment Weekly. “That blue was a Versace blue. It was so electrifying,” says Ramirez.
When we think of the Roman Empire, “We tend to relate it to washed-out statues … white palaces and white marble” due to wear over time. But in actuality, “the Roman Empire was bright and colorful. Everything was shiny, big, and loud. And Gianni basically rescued that.” The designer created an entirely new fashion framework that embodied classicism and embraced Rome’s great art and architecture.
During Milan Fashion Week in 2017, Donatella Versace honored her brother’s legacy with an epic finale during the brand’s fashion show. She reintroduced many of Gianni’s iconic, baroque, pop-art, and Warholian designs and concluded with the five supermodels whose careers he helped define: Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Helena Christensen, Carla Bruni, and Claudia Schiffer.
There is no doubt Gianni Versace affected the landscape of the fashion industry in many ways. His fusion of pop culture, Roman art, celebrity, and sexuality all played into his legacy. The designer was also a pioneer of making the front row a celebrity mainstay. “We wouldn’t be invited to the first row of a fashion show if it weren’t for a culture that Gianni Versace created 20 years ago,” says Ramirez during his Build interview. He was the first to create this “mixture between celebrity, cinema, music, and this rock ’n’ roll approach to couture and high fashion.”
Versace was not just a designer, but also an innovator in fashion, a skilled tailor, and a craftsman. After his death, Donatella continued his fashion line, which rakes in more than $600 million annually, allowing for her brother’s fashion legacy to continue to thrive.
Although Ramirez is on to his next film projects, he still has a few mementos from set to remember Versace by — a pair of black slides emblazoned with classic Versace gold medusa heads and a key chain, both emblems of the designer that appear in the first episode.
Gianni Versace was only 50 when he was killed on his front doorstep in 1997. This marks the 20th anniversary of his death. The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story premieres tonight, Jan. 17, at 10 p.m. ET on FX.
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