Last night, American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace premiered with a party held poolside at Miami Beach's Villa Casa Casuarina.
The opulent property, still referred to by many as the Versace mansion or Villa Versace, plays a prominent role in the series. Filmmakers rented out the entire property for one month to film exterior and interior scenes.
At last evening's event, it was surreal to sit on the slain designer's pool deck and watch Penélope Cruz as a striking Donatella ponder her brother's empire while overlooking the pool beyond a Medusa-head-embossed railing. It was as meta as one can get.
If you weren't invited to the fete, you can stay at the mansion-turned-hotel for about $1,600 a night. An evening sleeping in the designer's own suite can cost as much as $2,500. If those prices turn you off, there's a much more economical way to walk in Versace's Italian-made shoes: Have dinner or cocktails at the villa.
"That's the biggest misconception. Some people think it's a museum and ask how much a tour is. I just tell them they should make a reservation for dinner," the hotel executive says.
The property, Copeland says, is still very much the same as when the fashion icon lived there. "We've gone to great lengths to keep Mr. Versace's vision." An on-staff artist is charged with maintaining the furnishings, murals, intricate mosaics, and inlaid pieces that are found all over the property.
Seated in the dining room with its intricate stone and shell-inlaid walls, one can easily imagine the designer enjoying dishes like black truffle risotto ($28) or caviar service ($175 to $305) on a balmy Miami Beach evening.
Still, he admits the place exudes a certain energy. "One of the things that has always struck me is the moment when we begin our service for the evening and light the lanterns. It's magical. There's such a good energy about this place."
The Villa Casa Casuarina. 1116 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach; 786-485-2200; vmmiamibeach.com. Gianni's and the Onyx Bar are open Tuesday through Sunday from 6 p.m. to midnight.