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He was born on December 16, 1944, in Reggio Calabria to Antonio Versace, a wholesaler, and Francesca Olandese, a dress maker and shop owner. By age six, Versace joined his father and continued to work after school and summers with him until he attended university. When not in school, he helped care for his younger sister, Donatella Versace.
In 1968 Santo graduated from the University of Messina with a degree in economics. He began working first as a banker in Reggio Calabria for Credito Italiano and later as a high school teacher of economics and geography. In 1972, he completed his military service as an officer in the “Genova cavallria.” Upon completion of his service, Santo opened his own accounting office in both Reggio Calabria and Milan. In 1976, he joined his brother Gianni Versace in Milan to support him in his rising career.
In 1977, Santo Versace, along with Gianni, founded the Gianni Versace trademark. Santo played a leading role in the success of the Versace brand by focusing on communication, organization, productivity, and quality. He oversaw all areas of the business--including sales, distribution, production and finance--and quickly became one of the industry's leading and most well-respected businesspeople.
With their sister, Donatella, the team built the Versace Empire into a worldwide luxury company generating over $1 billion per year in retail sales. Today, together with Donatella, Santo continues to lead the house of Versace.