He had his first contact with the fashion world as a kid, working in his mother's atelier, at Via Tommaso Gulli 13, near the Cathedral, where today is a Versace boutique.
"Reggio is the kingdom where the fairy story of my life began: the tailoring of my mother's shop, the haute couture boutiques. The place where, as a child, I began to appreciate the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Aeneid, where I began to breathe the art of Magna Grecia."(Gianni Versace, February 1992)
In 1972, at age twenty, he moved to Milan to work as a fashion designer, creating his first collections for Genny, Complice and Callaghan. In 1975 he presented his first collection of leather clothes for "Complice". On March 28, 1978 at the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan, he presented his first woman collection signed with his own name.
The following year Gianni began a successful collaboration with American photographer Richard Avedon, and in 1982 he won the "Occhio d'Oro" as "best stylist 1982/83 women's Fall/Winter season". During this period, Versace introduced those metal elements that would later become a classic of his production. His brother Santo, now president of Gianni Versace SpA, in 1968 had graduated in economics and opened his own accountant studio in Reggio Calabria. At the end of 1976, he moved permanently to Milan to join Gianni in founding Versace SpA, where younger sister Donatella also worked as a designer.