Why Giorgio Armani says he’s “anti-fashion”

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Mr. Armani – as he is always called, in many languages ​​- does not wait very often. He is unable to do so, given his empire, which covers esoteric delicacies such as Armani housewares and hotels, floristry and chocolates, with brand revenues totaling over $ 4.8 billion. dollars in 2019. Of course, what Mr. Armani is best known for is fashion: his eponymous label, Giorgio Armani, founded in 1975; Armani Privé, its range of tailor-made haute couture clothing for women, presented in Paris since 2005; and Emporio Armani.

If Giorgio Armani is the purest distillation of Armani and Privé’s aesthetic ideology is its extravagant, exuberant and indulgent side – as clothes costing over £ 30,000 tend to be – Emporio represents a young spirit, despite the fact that he turns 40 this year. The line will be celebrated next fall with an exhibition at Silos, Armani’s minimalist Milanese exhibition space, of Emporio outfits framed by the photography that helps cement Armani’s vision, his universe. Rarely does he take a break.

When he does, for GQ, it’s in Paris. He has just met privately with Italian President Sergio Mattarella as Armani is the oldest statesman in Italian fashion. They discussed the state of the economy, of industry. Mattarella’s daughter Laura attended Armani’s haute couture presentation held at the Italian Embassy in Paris. Two weeks earlier, in Milan, Armani had organized its first fashion show since the Covid-19 pandemic, presenting its spring / summer 2022 men’s clothing line. Sixteen months earlier, in February 2020, Armani was the first Italian designer to cancel a physical performance for health reasons. And a week after we met, he turns 87.

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Armani’s energy and appearance – tanned, slender, intense eyes, decisive movements – pushes back a good quarter of a century any estimate one can give, which perhaps connects him more intimately to Emporio. than you might think. “The idea of ​​’youth’ hasn’t changed,” says Armani. “It is still as valid today. This is the attitude that must be young. He started showing the Emporio Armani line in 1986, paving the way for other designers to launch low-cost lines that were alternately dubbed secondary, diffusion, or bridge. Emporio Armani has always been about more than affordability, although this is inherently part of a democracy Armani admires. And he doesn’t hesitate to discuss it. “Emporio is for people who have a young attitude, but who may not have exactly the same means as Giorgio Armani,” he pauses. “Because, you know, the price is relatively lower – a little more accessible – but they still want those Armani values.”

The Armani “look” is easy to define. As Bret Easton Ellis wrote in American psychopath, muted grays, taupes and navies, subtle plaids, polka dots and stripes are Armani. He strangely missed the greige – the color Armani invented that resembles the faded facades of Milanese apartment buildings, a kind of smog-smoky sandstone – and didn’t mention the couture, which also underlines the designer’s look. But, in terms of value, Armani is synonymous with easy elegance, egalitarianism, blurring of gender lines – by the mid-1980s Armani was already offering Emporio pieces for men and women to wear, long before the modern notion of the fluidity of genres had never been conceived. Her clothes are elegant, timeless, discreet. They find parallels in Le Corbusier’s buildings, called “living machines”, where form follows function, where ornament is crime. Emporio Armani is older than me, right. When it was created in 1981, it echoed an aesthetic that, even at this nascent stage of Armani’s solo career, had already fundamentally shifted the focus of fashion, reshaping the dress of late of the twentieth century and defining that of the 21.

Richard Gere as Armani-clad Julian Kaye in American gigolo, 1980.Everett Collection / Courtesy of Paramount

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