Life Lessons from Italian Architects and Fashion Designers
Founder of the international fashion house that bears his name, his legendary extravagance was inspired by sources both ancient and avant-garde, from Roman emperors to Andy Warhol.
"I am not interested in the past, except as the road to the future."
Doyenne of the House of Versace, she once described herself as little more than an accessory to her brother's genius. But after Gianni's murder she found her voice as a designer.
"Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas."
She had the sweeping vision to turn her family's leather goods business into a multi-million dollar fashion empire. Blessed with an exacting mind that left no detail overlooked, she noticed every little thing...including how her employees showed up dressed for work.
"The more sexy you make yourself appear, the less you'll have sex....To look sexy once in a while, fine, but not...from morning to night."
A designer of flamboyant embellished clothing, he was among the first to feature leather on the catwalk and turned sandblasted jeans into a wardrobe staple. As a Miss Universe judge in 1977, he knew a good thing when he saw it. He married first runner-up Miss Austria Eva Duringer, who later helped turn around his flagging brand in the 1990s.
"My friends are practically all women. They are much more intelligent than men."
Originally trained as an architect, his early successes came as a product and furniture designer. Best known for his Cab Chair and sleek Olivetti machines, he returned to architecture in the 1980s, designing numerous buildings and urban landscapes in Japan, a country he described as "an architect's wonderland."
"I like to consider every project like a new exploration to be faced with curiosity, maximum mental openness and renewed creative energy."
Domenico Dolce of Dolce & Gabbana
He learned the ropes in his family's small clothing factory and supplemented that knowledge by studying fashion design.
"If you start to believe in your own success and live like a successful person, you kill everything. The best success is the next success."
Stefano Gabbana of Dolce & Gabbana
Instead of fashion, he initially pursued graphic design. When he landed alongside Domenico Dolce in 1980 at a design studio in Milan, the two struck up a personal and professional relationship that lasted nearly two decades.
"You need to believe in what you've made. You put all your love and passion into it and, if you are good, your dream will come true."
Hailed as Italy's most successful designer, his name became synonymous with menswear after he outfitted Richard Gere for the film "American Gigolo" in 1980.
"The difference between style and fashion is quality."
The architect behind the Shard in London, Europe's tallest skyscraper, and the New York Times Building in Manhattan, he was named by TIME magazine as one of the world' most influential people.
"The center of the composition is not a building, but an empty space."
He turned heads with his new addition to the Louvre -- an undulating glass and concrete structure in the courtyard of the venerable museum. Co-created with Mario Bellini, the building houses the Department of Islamic Arts and gives the impression of a luminous magic carpet about to take flight.
"The difference between utopia and action is this reality of implementation."
Linda Lowen is a freelance writer in Syracuse, NY, who has learned her own life lessons from being married to an Italian designer -- her structural engineering husband.