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Armani, Giorgio - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Social and Economic Impact, Chronology: Giorgio Armani

fashion line clothing designer

Giorgio Armani SpA


Giorgio Armani has been a major fashion influence on both sides of the Atlantic since the early 1980s. He challenged traditional designs by creating elegant clothing that emphasized the body, becoming in the process one of the most respected creators of apparel for both men and women. His fashions are in great demand among celebrities and have also changed the way average Americans approach fashion.

Personal Life

Giorgio Armani was born on July 11, 1934, in Piacenza, Italy, a small town southeast of Milan. He was the second of three children of Maria and Ugo Armani, who managed a transport company. Though Armani never had any formal art training, he has said that growing up in Italy helped foster his aesthetic sense because it afforded him so many opportunities to see excellent design in architecture, interiors, sculpture, and painting.

Armani entered the field of fashion in an indirect way. To please his parents, he began studying medicine at the University of Bologna in 1952. He quickly realized, however, that becoming a doctor was not for him because he could not stand the sight of blood. After briefly pursuing photography and then serving in the Italian Army, he took a job as a window dresser at Milan’s La Rinascente department store. Armani remained there for seven years, learning the nuts and bolts of merchandising and discovering that he had a flair for retailing that enabled him to work his way up to the position of menswear buyer and later fashion coordinator. He eventually went on to become a major success in the fashion world.

Armani lives what he calls an “absolutely banal” or dull life in his 400-year-old palazzo (palace) in Milan. This building houses his studio, his two-level apartment, an indoor pool, and apartments for both his mother and for his partner, Galeotti. At the center of the palazzo is a ballroom where he puts on fashion shows. While he is known in Milan as “The Maestro,” Armani is a shy man who prefers not to be in the limelight. A vegetarian, a non-smoker, and a nondrinker, he describes himself as a workaholic who oversees every detail of production at his company, from designing to advertising. He considers his employees his “family.”

Career Details

The various positions Armani held at La Rinascente enabled him to obtain an extensive education in the complex world of retailing and marketing. After leaving La Rinascente, Armani took a job at the textile and garment firm Nino Cerruti, where he developed an understanding of fabrics and industrial tailoring.

In 1974, Armani launched his own design label with money that he and a partner raised by selling a Volkswagen. The new company, named Giorgio Armani SpA, had a working capital of only $10,000. From the very beginning, Armani’s styles were distinctive. As he explained in an interview with Playboy, his goal was to change the rigid, boxy jackets that had until then dominated men’s fashion. “They turned out the jackets like cars—they all looked the same,” declared Armani. Instead, he emphasized fluid lines and achieved his characteristic “unstructured” look by eliminating interfacings, shoulder pads, and linings. “I invented a type of sports jacket that’s relaxed, informal, less stiff,” he observed. “The body moved easier in a suit made of soft fabrics.”

Though Armani’s styles were expensive, their elegance was undeniably appealing. Within a year, he was designing for women as well as for men after observing that they were shopping for themselves at his menswear stores. In 1976, only two years after Armani’s designs debuted in Italy, Barney’s of New York introduced the Armani line in the United States. Combined sales of Armani clothes reached $90,000 that year, and soon other designers had begun to imitate his distinctive style. In 1979, the designer launched a second line of clothing. It was more traditional but still focused on elegance of structure and material. That same year, Armani received a Neiman-Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion. In 1981, more than 600 American fashion writers chose him to receive a Cutty Sark Award as outstanding international designer.

In 1980, Armani opened Giorgio Armani U.S.A. in New York City. Employing mass production techniques from the Italian firm Gruppo Finanziorio Tessile, he was able to lower the prices of his garments significantly while retaining their high quality. Featuring men’s suits priced in the range of $275 to $400 instead of $700 or $800, the Armani line began attracting a wider range of customers. That same year, Armani designed the wardrobe worn by actor Richard Gere in the film American Gigolo, which brought him even greater visibility. By 1982, his company’s estimated total revenues were $135 million, a figure that represented a 60 percent increase over 1981 sales.

In 1982 Armani became the first fashion designer to be featured on the cover of Time magazine since Christian Dior. During the 1990s, he dressed several prominent movie stars for Oscar night ceremonies, imbuing Hollywood with “drop-dead glamour.” According to the Fashion Page web site, in 1998 his company boasts sales of almost $1.7 billion, with 2,000 stores selling Armani products worldwide. His products now include not just clothing but perfume, accessories, and even umbrellas. Armani believes that the future of the fashion industry lies in lifestyle marketing. As he told the Daily News Record, “I would like to develop new product applications that could be used for interior design, such as furniture, lamps, and other objects The designer has entered our lives in all sectors—people just won’t accept a mundane object anymore.”

Social and Economic Impact

Armani considers his greatest achievement to be the creation of a more casual, relaxed image for men. “I always believed that men needed to be as comfortable in their clothes as women were,” he told the Daily News Record. “I think I will be remembered as someone who, to a certain extent, broke the rules.”

By eliminating the superfluous, focusing on comfort, and acknowledging the elegance of simplicity, Armani has changed fashion for women as well as for men. His flowing, neutral-toned jackets for career women replaced the austere, “dress-for-success” suits that aped what businessmen typically wore. He introduced beautiful fabrics and subtle tailoring, following his own inspirations rather than a rigid fashion formula. For example, a trip to Japan inspired much of his 1981 collection, and an Italian motorcycle sport influenced his “Easy Rider” collection of 1982. “Drastically imposed a fashion would mean having no respect for the consumer,” he once explained. “As far as I am concerned, I do just the opposite: if I catch sight of a man or woman on the street dressed in a way that strikes me as uniquely elegant, I might interpret it for my collections. The goal I seek is to have people refine their style through my clothing without having them become victims of fashion.”

Chronology: Giorgio Armani

1934: Born.

1954: Began working at La Rinascente department stores.

1954: Joined Nino Cerruti as menswear designer.

1974: Introduced first Armani menswear collection.

1975: Cofounded Giogrio Armani SpA and added women’s designs to Armani line.

1976: New York retailer Barney’s introduced Armani line in United States.

1980: Designed Richard Gere’s wardrobe in American Gigolo and launched Giorgio Armani U.S.A.

1985: Won the Cutty Sark Men’s Fashion Award.

1991: Awarded Honorary Doctorate from Royal College of Art

Fashion critics have praised Armani’s designs for their elegant simplicity, prompting New York Times writer Bernadine Morris to refer to him as “the world’s master tailor.” Celebrities such as John F. Kennedy, Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, and Jodie Foster regularly wear Armani clothes. In the music world, Gwen Stefani of No Doubt has modeled his fashions, and Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers has become known for his trademark black Armani suit. Thus, more than two decades after launching his own line of clothing, Armani continues to shape the worldwide fashion industry.

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over 5 years ago

Armani, Giorgio - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Social and Economic Impact, Chronology: Giorgio Armani

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about 6 years ago

Inspiring, encouraging, informative, clear. Is there any way to send a letter to Mr. Armani, so that he personally reads it? Thank you, Sulamiph