2010 February 2

Need to Read: The Versace Tell-All

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House of Versace: The Untold Story of Genius, Murder, and Survival House of Versace: The Untold Story of Genius, Murder, and Survival
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(NEW YORK) Are fashion biographies the new diet books? As publishers increasingly court new subsets of readers with niche titles, the market has been flooded with breathless tell-alls about some of fashion's finest. The trend began almost a decade ago with Sara G. Forden's The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed. Ridley Scott is currently producing a film version of the book; several Hollywood blogs reported that he wanted Angelina Jolie to play Patrizia Gucci, who is currently serving a 26-year prison sentence for hiring a hitman to murder her ex-husband, Maurizio Gucci, in 1995.

The fash-book fervor picked up In 2006, when Alicia Drake's The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris earned even more publicity than the author bargained for when Karl Lagerfeld took her to court in France for an "atteinte à la vie privée" (breach of privacy) as identified in Article 9 of the French Civil Code. A Paris court dismissed the case in early 2007.

Now, the Versaces are under literary scrutiny. Today, Crown has released the hardcover version of journalist Deborah Ball's first book, House of Versace: The Untold Story of Genius, Murder, and Survival. The story begins with Gianni Versace's murder on July 15, 1997 before spilling the biography, from the childhood of Santo, Gianni and Donatella in Reggio to the company's 2009 corporate reorganization. Most illuminating is Bell's exploration of Allegra Versace Beck, Gianni's majority shareholding principessa who now, at 23 years old, controls the house's destiny.

We know, we know--you're busy, it's nearly fashion week, et cetera. But as the fate of Versace remains uncertain--major layoffs were announced last week, and the American press office has been closed--it is recommended that you devour this tome by the time Continental #44 lands in Milan on February 24. The film rights have not yet been optioned--but it's only a matter of time.

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