'House of Versace': Designer clothes triumph over drama and drugs

Versace. The name instantly conjures images of animal prints, luxurious fabrics and sexy clothes.

The family behind the name is the subject of Lifetime's "House of Versace" Saturday, Oct. 5. Enrico Colantoni ( "Veronica Mars") plays the mercurial designer, killed outside his Miami mansion in 1997 at the peak of his fame. Though the film revolves around the fashion house he built, the story is told from the perspective of his sister Donatella ( Gina Gershon , "Rescue Me").

Her imperious attitude, cocaine addiction and high drama all take a back seat to the true star of the movie, the clothes. Even after 35 years in the business, costume designer Claire Nadon tells Zap2it, "It was one of the greatest projects I have worked on. It is so rare we do a film about clothing or designers. And it is such an opportunity working with Versace. It was wonderful, trying to reproduce some of his designs."

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This was an authentic Versace that Nadon bought for the film. She browsed online and found several vintage Versace pieces to go with the dozens of outfits made for the movie. This baroque print silk chiffon is lined, but the sleeves are transparent.

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The shimmery green dress flows beautifully because it is made from Oroton, a fluid metallic fabric that Versace worked with often. It's a magnificent concept because it moves like liquid gold. Nadon worked hard to learn to use this fabric and re-create the body-hugging dresses Versace crafted.

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Not everyone can design, and not everyone can wear skintight red leopard-print slacks. But if done with the right attitude, it is arresting. The black leather jacket with safety pins is vintage Armani, and Nadon found it online for $2,200. It was the most expensive piece used in the movie.

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Here, Gianni wears a famous print Versace shirt, which Nadon found on eBay for $300. His boyfriend, Antonio, also wears print Versace, which was originally scarves that Nadon sewed together to make a shirt. It was too much print in one scene, so they diluted the look with the white jacket.

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Richard Avedon, the fashion photographer who worked with Versace from the beginning, took a famous photo of five women in colorful vinyl dresses.

"We did not have the right to do it the same way," Nadon explains. "An Avedon picture is a work of art in itself. We couldn't match the shoes, and we have four girls instead of five. The colors matched pretty well, so I could match the style very well."

"I tried to be as faithful to [Versace's] design as possible," Nadon says. "We did 10 years of Versace in three weeks. We could not do the most elaborate ones."

Versace's creations often graced red carpets, and the world's most famous women wore his gowns. The green floral gown with the plunging neckline (which Jennifer Lopez wore) and the black and silver gown (worn by Halle Berry) were Versace. Princess Diana, who attended his funeral, was another Versace client.
Photo/Video credit: Lifetime