There is perhaps no fashion house logo more recognized than the Versace logo with the head of a Medusa. The striking emblem captures the drama that the house would become known for.
Founded by Gianni Versace in 1982, the eponymous luxury brand has become one of the most recognizable fashion houses in the world. Even if you have no idea about fashion, you’ve probably heard of Versace in song lyrics or on television.
The brand is known for its bold design aesthetic, which often includes vivid colors (such as the black and gold) and a nonchalant use of prints and mixed metals.
However, Versace is also memorable for his connection to a tragedy that shocked the world. In 1997, Gianni Versace was murdered in front of his Miami Beach mansion by serial killer Andrew Cunanan. This highly publicized death has become the subject of documentaries, movies and true-crime television shows over the years. The recent limited series, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” was the most nominated at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards.
Unfortunately, Gianni’s death was not the first major loss in the Versace family. Gianni’s older sister, Tina, died at age 12 due to a poorly treated tetanus infection. This led to the family having Gianni’s younger sister, the current creative director, Donatella Versace.
History of the Versace logo
From childhood, Gianni shared a connection to the world of Greek mythology. He grew up in southern Italy, in Reggio di Calabria, where the Hellenic influence is present in the history, architecture and culture of the region
You may be surprised to learn that Calabrian-Greek is an endangered set of dialects still spoken in the region, with only a few thousand speakers remaining. Reggio di Calabria is located within Magna Graecia, the name given to the towns in southern Italy where many Greeks colonized and settled from the 8th century BC onwards.
Apparently, Gianni Versace chose the Medusa’s head logo after remembering seeing it in ancient ruins where he and his brothers played as children. Gianni drew this image from his childhood memory, like the myth, unable to look away from Medusa for too long.
In the swimming pool of his Miami mansion there was even a mosaic of Medusa, reminiscent of traditional depictions of the gorgon in ancient Greek and Roman art.
The myth of Medusa
Medusa may be one of the best-known monsters in Greek mythology. Some interpretations say that the beautiful maiden Medusa was too conceited, and Athena, the goddess of war and wisdom, tried to humiliate her by making her hideous. Medusa’s hair became a nest of snakes slithering, and anyone who looked directly at her was turned to stone. Other interpretations say that she had an affair with the god of the sea, Poseidon, which provoked Athena’s jealousy.
Recently, the version of the myth that Poseidon raped Medusa in the temple of Athena has been re-emphasized. In her anger, Athena turns Medusa into the gorgon we know. Scholars and feminist activists alike have rallied around Medusa as a representation of how survivors are punished. This myth holds a deep and familiar grain of truth about the many reasons we find for punishing women. It seems unfair, then, that we remember Medusa as the only monster in the story.
In this way, Medusa and the house of Versace share a common sense of tragedy. Both understand the way in which punishments can occur for no reason.
The substitution of Medusa’s scalp for a nest of vipers is not coincidental. In the Western canon, snakes usually represent deception and evil. The animal that tempted Adam to take a bite of the evil apple? Indeed, a snake. Athena not only turned Medusa into a beast, but also into a fundamentally corrupt monster.
According to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, it is rare for characters in Greek art to look forward. However, in many depictions of Medusa over the millennia, she looks directly at the viewer. Medusa’s gaze is uncompromising, looking at us despite her monstrosity, or perhaps because of it.
This is also how the Versace logo meets Medusa. Gianni designed the logo in 1992, and it hasn’t changed much since then. A line-drawn Medusa faces us with a slight smile, set in a circle surrounded by a meander or key border, typical in Greek design
The logo remains one of the most iconic fashion symbols of all time and stands out for its complexity in a sea of brands with minimalist logos and designs
The Medusa looks back at us without qualms, and this idea is reflected in Versace’s designs. Excess and indulgence are celebrated, made feminine and sexy, or turned into a riot of color. Less is not more. More is more. The Versace woman can fully embrace her desires and reveal as much or as little of herself as she wants. Who in the world has ever needed modesty?
The history of the House of Versace is almost mythical because it includes intense sorrows as well as victories. Perhaps this is what allows its brand to be so daring.
The Spring/Summer 2021 collection, centered on the rebirth of Venus, another powerful woman from mythology, perfectly portrays Versace’s boldness. “With this collection/campaign I wanted to portray the modern Medusa. Or better, to highlight how her many faces can be drastically different from each other and every woman can truly be Medusa,” the show notes say.
Versace logo changes throughout its history
It was in 1980 – two years after Versace was founded – that Gianni unveiled the brand’s first logo, which featured only the name Gianni Versace
In 1990, to make his logo much more eye-catching and highlight his name, he changed the typography for one with wider and therefore more visible capital letters
It was not until 1993 when the company unveiled its famous Medusa’s head logo.
Since 1993, the Versace logo has changed very little. Over the years, minor modifications have been made to the lettering and border of the logo, but the classic image of Medusa’s face has remained the same.
After the fashion designer’s death, the brand included his last name at the bottom of the logo, with a typeface adapted to the outline of the logo
In 2008 , the Versace brand made some adjustments to its logo. It changed the style of the letters and made them bigger so that the brand name would stand out more than before
Meaning of the Versace logo
While others have drawn additional parallels between the mythology of Medusa and the Versace brand, Versace itself has given little background on the origin of the emblem.
Gianni may have chosen Medusa as the Versace logo because of its magnetic appeal and his own connection to Greek artwork. However, Medusa still has several connotations that make it an interesting and ironic choice for a high-end fashion brand.
The story of Medusa is a warning against lust and vanity. After seducing Poseidon, Medusa was punished by Athena and turned into a being so hideous that merely looking at her turned men to stone.
Given that Versace, like all high-end fashion brands, relies heavily on vanity to sell its products, it is rather ironic that Gianni Versace would choose as his company logo a woman who was turned dangerously hideous because of her vanity. We will never know if Gianni Versace was fully aware of this connotation, but the fact that he grew up in Rome means that he will surely have heard the story thousands of times. As a result, everyone wonders if the Versace logo contains a hidden message, a sort of inside joke at the customer’s expense.
Despite the interesting message conveyed by the choice of Medusa for the logo, there are several design elements of the Versace logo that make it a unique and appealing design.
The logo is simplistic and lacks a specific color scheme, meaning that it can easily be incorporated into any clothing item without clashing with the clothing’s own color scheme.
Resembling a design from ancient Greece, the Versace logo is able to convey the idea that Versace clothing is timeless and almost mythological in its design, something that the Greek gods and heroes themselves might have worn.
Finally, the Versace logo is certainly unique and easily recognizable by anyone familiar with the fashion industry.
What is the typography of the Versace brand?
The most similar font we can find for the Versace logo is Radiant Medium, which is a grotesque style typeface designed in 2002 by Robert Hunter Middleton & Steve Jackaman and published by Red Rooster.
It is a paid typeface, which you can find in different type stores on the Internet for a price around 40 euros
How does Versace usually use the logo in its designs?
Clothing and apparel brands like Versace rely heavily on their logos. While the design of Versace products is what sets them apart, it is the Versace logo that accompanies each piece of clothing or other product that Versace produces that lets you know where that design comes from. Thus, the Versace logo serves both to market Versace’s products and to trademark each article of clothing that Versace produces.
Versace may not often put its logo on clothing in the way that many brands do, but it is always there. It is present on the clothing itself and in all of Versace’s marketing and promotional activities.
Although the logo has stirred up some controversy because of the interesting associations that come into play when a fashion brand chooses Medusa as its logo, that controversy has not hurt Versace’s image.
Since the Versace logo has changed very little since it was revised in 1993, it can be said that the logo has served the brand very well over the years. Without a doubt, it is one of the most iconic logos in the entire fashion industry.
Want to create a logo for your brand as appealing as Versace’s?
If you have a business and you want to design a professional logo that differentiates you from the competition and makes your brand recognized, take a look at some of our articles about logos, where you can find resources that will be useful when creating your own logo and who knows, maybe someday it will be as recognized as the Versace logo.