Princess Diana, Kate Moss, Donna Karan, and More Reactions to Gianni Versace’s 1997 Murder

In 1997, the influential Italian designer was killed by a madman on a killing spree. The Daily Beast looks back at some of the fashion world’s heartbreaking reactions.


Seventeen years ago today, the fashion world lost one of its greatest members. Just before 9 a.m., Italian designer Gianni Versace was shot outside his Miami Beach mansion by spree killer Andrew Cunanan; Versace was one of five Cunanan murdered before turning the gun on himself. News quickly spread among his colleagues, friends, and fans who expressed their anguish and disbelief at the murder of the 50-year-old designer, who was known for his passionate, positive personality that showed in his brightly colored, patterned aesthetic. Versace was admired by many, from supermodel Naomi Campbell (who reportedly turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with his death) to Elton John (who performed his song, “Candle in the Wind,” at Versace’s funeral). Below, see some of the heartbreaking reactions to the designer’s 1997 murder.

“The news of Gianni Versace’s death has left me in a state of shock. Gianni Versace, together with a handful of names, symbolizes the success of Italian fashion all over the world. My reaction is one of revolt against such an unnatural and violent death, and one of profound grief.” — Giorgio Armani

“I’m stunned and lost for words.” — Kate Moss

“There are no words to describe how I feel right now. What happened is absurd, unexplainable, terrible... I feel only infinite pain.” — Gianfranco Ferre

“Just the other day, I bumped into Gianni in front of the Ritz in Paris. He was laughing, enjoying life and the beautiful things that surrounded him and that were a part of him—an eclectic mix that created the Versace style that will not be easily forgotten. Today, the shock and tragedy of what has happened is overwhelming, and it is hard to believe that he is no longer among us.” — Valentino

“Gianni was a dear friend of mine and I am going to miss him horribly.” — Elizabeth Hurley

“[Versace] combined the spirit of America with the sophistication of Europe. The loss of Gianni Versace is deeply felt by all. I am personally devastated by his death.” — Donna Karan

“I am devastated by the loss of a great and talented man.” — Princess Diana

“Music and fashion are the two art forms which, more than any other, dictate and reflect what is happening in the world culturally. As a designer, Gianni was completely aware of that correlation. Again we wake to find that we have had a great artist and friend tragically taken away from us. When will it end?” — Quincy Jones

“Gianni was a rare talent, a genius as a designer and, more importantly, a wonderful friend whose warmth and generosity I will miss terribly.” — Lisa Marie Presley

“I am devastated to have lost one of my closest friends, who I loved so much and who I had been so looking forward to seeing again on holiday very soon. We were so very close that it’s like a large part of my life has died with him. I’m in deep shock at the news—it really hasn’t sunk in yet. I feel so sorry for all of Gianni’s family. The world has lost a wonderful creative genius, and I have lost a very dear friend.” — Elton John