The death of a fashion innovator does not necessarily spell doom for the company that bears his or her name. The fashion houses founded by Coco Chanel and Guccio Gucci, for example, continue to thrive long after their founders' passing. Yet such was the force of Gianni Versace's personality, life-style and flair for publicity, that the question of succession is more pertinent than ever: Without Versace, can his empire survive?

Certainly, at his death, the designer was at the height of his powers, with his fashion house stitching together numbers as eye catching as its merchandise. The profits of Gianni Versace...

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