Greek Mythology is a topic which almost everyone studies in school, and which oddly enough, can be found influencing us in our daily modern lives. Everyone knows that Greece was the birthplace of democracy; basically it is where the American idea of government comes from, and has even influenced our ideas of heroes and villains. Not everyone however, is aware of how prolific Greek mythology is in today’s media. Many companies have taken names or logos which take their meaning from Greek mythology; companies like NIKE, named after the goddess of victory, or the product Ajax, named for a hero of the Trojan war.Gianni Versace’s clothing line has also taken its cue from the past.
The Versace logo shows a representation of the head of Medusa: a woman who was transformed into a monster after offending the gods. She was punished for allowing the god Posidon to seduce her in the temple of the goddess Aphrodite. Her hair, which had once been her most glorified attribute, was turned into snakes. As the story goes, anyone who looked at her would be turned into stone. Perhaps this is not something which one would usually associate with a major fashion house; something being so ugly that it can turn you into stone. However, Gianni Versace had a fascination with classical art and architecture, and it is with the later, beautiful representations of Medusa that the logo is associated with. During the Roman period, especially, Medusa was depicted as a beautiful woman with wild hair, and a few snakes twined here and there.
Versace himself was from Southern Italy, which still has in many ways, a close association with Greece. One cannot walk down a street in Italy and not be bombarded with trinkets and antiques which somehow allude to their ties with ancient Greece. Growing up, he would have been inundated with images such as this one, from the classical world. The Medusa insignia with the Greek key is an allusion to the classical world which all people understand. In the image being such an ancient one, it also gives a measure of class and wealth to the company. It is also an image which is instantly recognizable to almost anyone over the age of five. Greek mythology is something which most people are exposed to in their lifetime. As such, the key figures which wind throughout mythology become figures which we all recognize.
Hercules, Zeus, we are all familiar with their tales.Many of the designer’s collections alluded to this connection, and almost always included Greek goddess type dresses and Greek motifs. The Medusa is also a wonderful symbol for fashion because Versace always wanted his designs to invoke some sort of goddess, or a very powerful woman, which Medusa was. His designs were also meant to stop people dead in their tracks, another of Medusa’s qualities.His designs were also meant to stop people dead in their tracks, another of Medusa’s qualities. In the end, Versace knew his market and chose a logo which exemplified the kind of woman he wished to design for. Versace’s designs were decadent, opulent, and alluded to a far more passionate past.