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Remembering the Glamorous Success and Cold-Blooded Murder of Fashion Icon Gianni Versace

People Logo People | Slide 1 of 10: <p>Born on Dec. 2, 1946, the son of a seamstress and an appliance salesman from dirt-poor Reggio di Calabria in Southern Italy, Gianni Versace grew up surrounded by sewing machines and fabrics in his mother's studio. He made his first dress at 9 years old and presented his first eponymous collection in 1978 in Milan at age 32. Later, he recounted to PEOPLE how a fifth-grade teacher caught him sketching Italian stars like Sophia Loren in evening wear. "My professor called my mother and said, 'Your son is a sex maniac,' " Versace recalled in 1986. "My mother said, 'Professor, my son is not a maniac. He just loves fashion and clothes.' "</p>

Humble Beginnings and an Early Love of Fashion

Born on Dec. 2, 1946, the son of a seamstress and an appliance salesman from dirt-poor Reggio di Calabria in Southern Italy, Gianni Versace grew up surrounded by sewing machines and fabrics in his mother's studio. He made his first dress at 9 years old and presented his first eponymous collection in 1978 in Milan at age 32. Later, he recounted to PEOPLE how a fifth-grade teacher caught him sketching Italian stars like Sophia Loren in evening wear. "My professor called my mother and said, 'Your son is a sex maniac,' " Versace recalled in 1986. "My mother said, 'Professor, my son is not a maniac. He just loves fashion and clothes.' "

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