Gianni Versace in Poland. A retrospective exhibition of the fashion master’s designs at Stary Browar in Poznań

29/06/2023 - 31/01/2024

Gianni Versace is a fashion and pop culture icon. A master of maximalism. He created a new definition of luxury for the world of high fashion – one in sync with the social changes he was a part of. Visitors will be able to see Gianni Versace’s original creations, clothes and accessories from his most famous collections, at a retrospective exhibition at Stary Browar in Poznań from September 1, 2023. This prestigious project is part of the 20th anniversary celebration program of Stary Browar – one of the most unique shopping centers in Poland.
He dressed Princess Diana, Elton John, Madonna, Courtney Love, and Salma Hayek. Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Carla Bruni, and Linda Evangelista all owe him their “supermodel” status. Stars who graced the red carpet in his creations took everyone’s breath away. “That dress” in which Elizabeth Hurley appeared at the premier of “Four Weddings and a Funeral” in 1994 even has its own Wikipedia page. Although it’s been over a quarter of a century since Gianni Versace’s tragic death (1946-1997), his creativity and approach to fashion haven’t ceased to inspire. The exhibition at Stary Browar will be a symbolic meeting with the author of “that dress.” The concept for this retrospective has been prepared specifically for “Stary Browar” this shopping center in Poznań by curator Wojciech Piotr Onak in collaboration with guest curators duo from the Dreamrealizer – Karl von der Ahé and Saskia Lubnow. Archival Gianni Versace collections will be showcased, in spirit of the designer’s work, with great panache at Stary Browar’s “Galeria na Dziedzińcu” (Courtyard Gallery). All the showpieces on display from September at Stary Browar will be original looks from the 90s, on a special loan for this project from international private collectors.

Gianni’s golden temple
Gianni Versace was born in 1946, in a small Italian town in Southern Italy. In pursuit of a career in fashion, he moved to Milan, where in 1978 he opened the first boutique of his brand. He was heavily influenced by monumentalism and the idealized beauty of ancient art, as well as dynamic baroque forms, the dramatic character of opera spectacles, and vibrant colors of pop art pieces. Out of this broad spectrum of inspirations grew the eclectic visual lexicon of Gianni Versace: the medusa’s head logo, arabesque “Barocco” print, metallic Oroton fabric, and gold decorations. The first hall of the exhibition in Stary Browar will be stylized as “Gianni’s Barocco temple,” filled with his most iconic symbols, patterns, and colors. – “Barocco” is Gianni Versace’s signature print and still today his most copied style – says co-curator Saskia Lubnow. The opulent style popularized by the designer was a reaction to the social changes which Gianni Versace himself embodied. For the representatives of “new money” fashion was a means of manifesting their self-made wealth, status, and power. Gianni Versace was in opposition to the quiet luxury aesthetics associated with old family fortunes. His take on luxury was loud, obtrusive, steeped in gold, yet sophisticated, with meticulous details and refined haute couture craftsmanship.

Warsaw in Miami
The skillful development of the brand as well as his collaborations and friendships with celebrities have won Gianni Versace international success. In 1992 he bought his Florida mansion, which he subsequently decorated in his lavish style. The Gianni Versace brand’s glamour was a hit on the scene. The nouveau riche art crowd and celebrities of sunny Miami, decked out in Gianni Versace’s designs, partied after dark at the Warsaw Ballroom. This cult disco club was the social center of the LGBTQ+ community, to which Gianni Versace openly belonged. The designer challenged the traditional, heteronormative definitions of masculine and feminine. In his world, men were sexual objects, dressed in airy silks, colorful fabrics, gold accessories, and with naked, perfectly sculpted torsos. Gianni Versace’s women, on the other hand, were full of sex appeal, powerful and domineering. The exhibit on the second level of Stary Browar’s art gallery “Galeria na Dziedzińcu” will be a tribute to Gianni Versace’s philosophy of uninhibited self-expression. – In this part of the exhibition we’ll showcase, amongst others, the famous 1993 collection, which Gianni Versace called his “S&M collection.” After its debut, an article in the New York Times provocatively asked: “chic or cruel” – says Karl von der Ahé from the curator duo Dreamrealizer.

That '90s Show
The exhibition at Stary Browar will first familiarize visitors with the aesthetics, iconography, and socio-cultural background of Gianni Versace’s universe, to next invite them, in a grand finale, to an unusual fashion show. The third hall of the “Galeria na Dziedzińcu” gallery will house a selection of Gianni Versace’s creations from each of his collections of the 90s. The fascination with the style and pop culture of the last decade of the 20th century has become a cross-generational phenomenon. For millennials and boomers alike, it holds a nostalgic appeal. – In the context of fashion, the 90s have a particular significance to people in Poland – explains Wojciech Piotr Onak, curator of Gianni Versace’s exhibition at Stary Browar. It was the decade when the world of international brands and famous designers literally opened up to us. It was also the time when “new money” became a thing here, by the Vistula. Accumulating more economic power, Poles began to aspire to the style Gianni Versace represented – rich, extravagant, full of color, ostentatiously branded – says Onak. Gianni Versace’s designs are still culturally relevant. – The ideas behind his creations – freedom of expression, gender fluidity, modernly defined feminism – resonate particularly well with Gen Z – explains Joanna Tupalska from Stary Browar. Just in last year’s film and music award ceremonies stars of the new generation, like Dua Lipa or Jenna Ortega (known from “Wednesday”), appeared in outfits from Versace’s archival collections – she adds. Thus, although his tragic death – at the hands of a serial killer, on the steps of his Miami home, on July 15th, 1997 – cut the designer’s life and career short, his legacy lived on. Gianni Versace became a legend, while his creations are part of the fashion and pop culture canon.

Stary Browar the heart of discovery 
Gianni Versace’s retrospective exhibition in Poznań is part of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the opening of Stary Browar – a shopping center known for showcasing incredible international art, fashion, and design. “Galeria na Dziedzińcu,” dubbed by the public “the gallery of pop culture,” is the cultural heart of Stary Browar. In the recent years it has hosted exhibitions of Björk, David LaChapelle, Daniel Lismore, Iris van Herpen, as well as Polish creators such as Ryszard Kaja, Noriaki, or artists of the Polish School of Posters. – To the inhabitants of Poznań, visitors from the area, and tourists, Stary Browar is a place of fashion, cultural, and gastronomic discoveries – says Joanna Tupalska, Marketing Director of this Poznań shopping center and producer of Gianni Versace’s exhibition in “Galeria na Dziedzińcu.” This retrospective of one of the most ingenious fashion designers in history encapsulates the most important elements of Stary Browar’s DNA: ambitious fashion, pop culture, creativity, and innovation – she sums up. Gianni Versace’s display in Poznań is a totally new edition of the project presenting the achievements and cultural relevance of the Italian designer. The previous edition, prepared by the Dreamrealizer duo for Groninger Museum in Holland, attracted a lot of attention from visitors and the media alike.

Gianni Versace Retrospective an exhibition celebrating the 20th anniversary of Stary Browar in Poznań
Opening: September 1st, 2023
The exhibition will be open till January 31st, 2024
“Galeria na Dziedzińcu” gallery, Stary Browar, Poznań
Curator: Wojciech Piotr Onak,
Guest Curators: Karl von der Ahé and Saskia Lubnow (Dreamrealizer)
Further information on the exhibition’s program and tickets soon

The exhibition is realised in collaboration with the leading private collectors of the work of Gianni Versace: Antonio Caravano (with Sabina Albano as collection curator) and Rossella Catapano, as well as Doris Brugger, Doriana & Salvatore Alderuccio and Franco Jacassi.

Media contact: Marta Kabsch T: +48 605 140 093

The exhibition is not official nor authorised or linked to Gianni Versace S.r.l. and/or to the Versace family.