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House of Versace: The Untold Story of Genius, Murder, and Survival Hardcover – February 2, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; First Edition edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307406512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307406514
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #770,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Meticulously researched…answers more questions about the family behind the high-flying brand than most of us could think to ask. The Wall Street Journal writer's account … helps humanize a legendary family.--The Wall Street Journal

"Deborah Ball got the story. Thanks to an impressive degree of access to both Santo and Donatella, as well as to a host of their friends and family members, this Wall Street Journal writer describes in riveting detail what the siblings were thinking behind their grief-stricken visages."--The Washington Post

"Readers may feel as if they are breaking through the sequined barrier that has sheltered the family from the world's eye; that the shroud of mystery around them is finally lifted. The result is a read that is genuinely honest and riveting."--The Associated Press

About the Author

A native of Boston, DEBORAH BALL has been a business journalist in Europe for more than 15 years. For 12 years, she has been a reporter for the Wall Street Journal in Milan, London and Zurich, covering a wide variety of business, finance and political topics. Between 1999 and 2002, she covered the European luxury goods sector for the Journal. Ms. Ball currently lives between Italy and Switzerland with her husband Fabrizio.

Customer Reviews

I thought the book was very well written.
Julie M. Nolan
I highly recommend this book to all those with an interest in fashion and who seek a different perspective of the Versace name.
D. Macera
That's the real drama in Deborah Ball's "House of VERSACE" -- a real, human story.
Aldan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bradley F. Smith on March 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A WSJ biz writer who lived in Europe for 15 years wrote this full scale business bio of the Versace tragedy, and it's a great read in all its pathos. She received full cooperation from everyone except Allegra Versace, daughter of Donatella and heiress to the house of Versace because her late uncle willed it all to her when she was just 12. Donatella's drug use is not spared here, but she received even-handed treatment as we see exactly what she faced when Gianni Versace was murdered in Miami and left her to replace him as the designing genius. She wasn't up to the task, but she muddled through. The story ends recently, but the tale of Versace is still unfolding. The main flaw is the relative lack of good photos. We get several generic shots of Casa Casuarina, the Ocean Drive mansion where Versace was shot. But there are none of the Milan atelier where all the clothes are designed and where a lot of this tale takes place.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Clark on March 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The Versace family's story is riveting. It's basically a rags to riches story with celebrities, rock 'n' roll, and murder mixed in. On top of that, there's a moving finale, when Donatella descends into drugs, nearly trashes the company, and then fights her way back from the depths and emerges again to live another day. It would be a happy ending, except that the company is still struggling and Versace's heir, Allegra, is still grappling with the fallout from it all.
In less sure hands, the over-the-top material would overwhelm the author. Deborah Ball does an excellent job of capturing the drama and pathos while still getting the facts straight. The result is a behind-the-scenes peek at life in the fast lane that at the same time offers insight into the characthers' inner lives. The book uses the family history as a way of looking at the changes in the fashion world in the past decades, and the impact that Gianni had on it. So anyone looking for a perspective on the fashion business, and for insight on how the fashion business has affected consumer tastes, would find food for thought here. And it doesn't have the warmed-over feel of a mish-mash of old press clippings, because it's clearly well researched. The author's time as a fashion reporter in Italy clearly helps make the book authentic.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. Baird on April 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I just finished House of Versace and enjoyed it tremendously. The research must
have been mammoth but it showed in the brilliant text. I also loved the writing
style. Often in either a well-researched piece or something dealing with fashion
and/or business, I become overwhelmed or bored. I was neither. One of the best
biographies I ever read was Charles Shields' Mockingbird: a Portrait of Harper
Lee. I felt after finishing the book about a complex and amazing woman that
Shields took the perfect measure of praise and honest criticism. It is a true
and realistic book that should have made Ms Lee pleased that he chose to tackle
her biography. I felt EXACTLY the same when I finished this fantastic book.
Gianni should be honored that Deborah Ball chose to do his biography in such a
careful and fair manner
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Edward S. Brown on January 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Deborah Ball's, "House of Versace," starts out slow, but picks up steam as you turn the pages. Like most biographies, the early years of an icon's life is largely uneventful, but as the person grows and finds his place in the world, the drama heats up. "House of Versace," is no different. Although, Gianni Versace was not the first fashion designer to dress celebrities, he is credited for electrifying and bringing to life the charisma within clothes. If charisma is defined as "Creating perceptions that impact the mind and emotions of others through flair, finesse and glib language," Versace used his insatiable creativity to create perceptions that disrupted and influenced mainstream fashion. In addition, Versace embodied the impact of a compelling idea. The Versace brand lives on through the sheer imagination, erudition and tenacity that were Gianni Versace.

An excellent marketing and business book about how brands are created. Also, "House of Versace," outlines the difficulties of institutionalizing the charisma of the founder once he perishes. This book is an excellent instructional guide for defining, systematizing and perpetuating a global concept.

Edward Brown
Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By coffe Di on January 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good read, salacious and somewhat juicy without being tasteless. Quite a dynamic between the three sibs in a southern Italian frame of mind. Think striving to be the best when others think you don't measure up because of where you are from. Working hard always got someone somewhere and that is the moral of their story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Loves the View VINE VOICE on August 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is an intriguing story told in a compelling way. I couldn't put it down and finished it a in a few sittings in a 24 hour period. The story is sensational, stranger than fiction but Deborah Ball keeps it on an even keel. This book is for readers interested in the company and its people, not for those who are interested in the prurient aspects of this drama.

The beginning pulls you right in. Ball starts with the drama of the Miami shooting. Then, she takes you back in time to Calabria with a short history of Nino and Franca and more on their four children. You see how roles of the three surviving siblings, set early on, created the synergy for success. While each member was important, only one was necessary, as was learned not long after that fatal day in Miami.

This appears to be the first book for the author, a reporter who has covered luxury goods for 12 years. She has relied on over 200 interviews which include all principal players with the exception of Allegra Beck.

Ball maintains a high level through most of the book. The last 50 or so pages could use a bit more clarification and more detailed editing both in the "big" story, and in bits of detail.

For instance, the coming of Allegra is foreshadowed with rhetorical questions asking if she will "exercise her power", "allow her mother..." "take her rightful role", but these questions are not clearly answered. Allegra attends a few board meetings, she seeks the advice of her father, goes to Brown and drops out then lives somewhat reclusively in California. For the "new" Versace it seems that Santo willingly steps down, but it's hard to tell how this came about. Did Allegra do this? Did her lawyer(s) do it with or without her involvement?
Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

A native of Boston, DEBORAH BALL has been a business journalist in Europe for more than 15 years. For 12 years, she has been a reporter for the Wall Street Journal in Milan, London and Zurich, covering a wide variety of business, finance and political topics. Between 1999 and 2002, she covered the European luxury goods sector for the Journal. Ms. Ball currently lives between Italy and Switzerland with her husband Fabrizio.

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