'The Genius of Gianni Versace Alive' debuts at Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival

James Cubby, Arts Writer

Miami Beach in the ‘90s was populated with models, photographers, celebrities, and designers like Gianni Versace. The streets were brimming with models rushing to go-sees and castings. Vincent De Paul was one of those models.

The Florida premiere of


The Florida premiere of "The Genius of Gianni Versace Alive" is at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival at the Savor Cinema on Sunday, Nov. 5.

Now under the name Salvatore Zannino, Vincent De Paul (his model/actor nom du plume) has helmed this new documentary on the man who has been called one of the world’s most prolific fashion designers. The documentary “The Genius of Gianni Versace Alive” also chronicles a very special time in Miami Beach and will make its Florida premiere at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival.

Vincent De Paul shares his inspiration for making the film and some recollections of his time in Miami Beach with

“In the 90s South Beach or SOBE was having quite a Renaissance and rebirth,” says De Paul.

Model hopefuls from all over the globe were flocking to South Florida “specifically Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive. I had just graduated from Johns Hopkins and was offered a job at Mt. Sinai Medical Center on Arthur Godfrey Boulevard and was so elated to be in sunny Florida. I did realize that it was a very special place but did not understand the true scope or magnitude of the impact the 90s in South Beach would have on the international fashion, music, and film movement.”

De Paul met Versace and his companion Antonio D'Amico while jogging on the beach. He was offered a modeling job and the rest as they say is history.

Director Vince De Paul, right, With Donatella Versace (Photo from the filmmaker)


Director Vince De Paul, right, With Donatella Versace (Photo from the filmmaker)

“I wanted to tell an authentic story about Gianni Versace and his contributions to the South Florida community. Gianni Versace's life was such a compelling story that I felt needed to be told. He empowered so many people in his life. The exploration of his made-in-Italy fashion created him as a maverick and style icon.”

“The Genius of Gianni Versace Alive” is De Paul’s debut documentary feature as a director but his career as two-time Emmy Award-winning producer and actor spans three decades.

The project, shot on locations on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, was a three-year project.

“Filmed partially in Gianni Versace's "Casa Casuarina" mansion in Miami Beach where every object is a separate work of art, the documentary brings the genius of the Italian fashion giant to life. The film has unique archival material and rare interviews of friends, former colleagues, and models: James Hyde, Steve Lyons, Matt King, Eric Etabari, Vincent De Paul, Kimberly Bacardi, Allyson Krowitz and Sandra Skidmore.

Allyson Krowitz in


Allyson Krowitz in "The Genius of Gianni Versace Alive" (2022). (Photo from the filmmaker)

A vivid portrait of a Renaissance designer emerges, a man who never stopped being inspired by his time to create a strictly personal universe of high aesthetics. The film allows the viewer to enter a cultural vortex. The documentary illustrates and explains that Versace was not only one of the greatest and most influential contemporary designers, but also, while walking the sharp intersection between classic and modern, redefined the way we perceive fashion, film and clothing.”

This will be the Florida premiere of "The Genius of Gianni Versace Alive." The documentary won the Visconti Award in Milan, and it was the opening night film at the Athens Fashion Film Festival in Greece.

South Florida audiences, especially those who remember Versace and his influence on the South Beach fashion community, will enjoy this celebration of Versace’s life through first-hand interviews and archival footage.

When asked what DePaul would say to Versace today if he were alive, he said he would thank him for all he has done for the fashion community and the world.

"The Genius of Gianni Versace Alive" will screen during the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 5 at the Savor Cinema. For more information on Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, showtimes, and to purchase tickets, visit For more information on Vincent De Paul, follow him on Instagram @vincentdepaul12, or visit

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