Happy birthday to Giorgio Armani, the fashion king

Giorgio Armani at the end of the Armani Privé exhibition autumn-winter 2022/23

The British called it in 1975, King George. And it’s not hard to understand why, all over the world and ever since, Giorgio Armani he was simply the king. With the complicity of noble ways, combined with an iconoclastic creativity capable of revolutionizing the ordinary in a whispering way to give life to the extraordinary, the man who made the freedom to go beyond trends into a creed fills 88 years today.

More than anyone else who is able to accompany the needs of a constantly evolving society with his style, Giorgio Armani has literally dressed women up by turning their wardrobe into identity cards for their professional and private liberation and has at the same time been able to give to the man. a softness far from previous years’ rigid formality. Pioneer in the creation of a genderless approach to fashion that translates ideal gender equality into clothing; visionary realist who has been able to democratize luxury by bringing an author’s signature into everyday life; the first to have guessed the connection between excellence in various fields, such as fashion and cooking, and imagining an entire lifestyle based on an idea of ​​natural and sophisticated elegance. Always recognizable, always extremely measured (“Elegance is intelligence and goal”, the stylist usually says), constantly looking for an idea of ​​perfection where aesthetics were not separated from morality. For as his Milan would say, Giorgio Armani is and has always been a real gentleman.

But the Lombard capital, instinctively associated with him, is “only” the privileged scene where Armani, born in Piacenza in 1934 and arrived here as a teenager, after overcoming the atrocities of war and the first low battles with his beloved family of fate, culminating in a burn that had reduced him, still a child, to death. Science high school, first year in medicine atState University of Milan, interrupted for military service and then never resumed due to the need to become self-employed and financially help his parents, Giorgio Armani was hired at Rinascente in 1960. In the first Italian multi-store, where creativity went hand in hand with the image, the young Armani was engaged in a multifaceted activity that became the perfect training ground for the future, which enabled him to acquire the versatility of skills (from purchasing men’s collections to the visual translation of the imaginary fashion in the shop windows) that formed the solid foundation of his empire. To know how to do everything, to have an eye for the future, to gather different areas, work hard, always looking for perfection.

It was Nino Cerrutiin 1965, who realized that Giorgio Armani’s passion for fashion was full of arrows that ranged from attention to image almost everywhere, and when he sensed his talent, he called him to design the men’s collection Hitman. Seven years of training experience, focusing mainly on the raw material, on the substances from which one can unravel the creative potential, also known from an economic point of view, to be selected on the basis of color charts that were gradually made colder and less noisy, and deepening of sartorial the technique, which became freer and avoided the immobility of the internal structures, bent to the softness of a looser, younger appearance. More free, actually.

Those were the years when the economic boom, beyond and on this side of the ocean, brought a new social class to the fore, eager to show its success, even with what it carries. Years crossed by a desire for lightness and emancipation that could and should have been described with a suit that represented him, far from the folkloric sloppiness of hippie origin and the unnatural rigidity of men’s suits. Mature years to breathe new life into an independent vision of fashion, the one that Giorgio Armani brings to life, with the far-sighted support of Sergio Galeotti, his friend and partner, with the creation of his eponymous brand, on July 24, 1975, originally dedicated to men’s clothing and, the following year, to women’s clothing. The 41-year-old stylist, who lacks the biography of traditional couturiers, signed a debut that left audiences at the Sala Bianca in Florence in Pitti speechless, bringing on the catwalk what will be the key elements of his style. A revolution that started from the color palette that only fell in shades of white and blue (the famous Armani blue, which is then joined by greige, a hybrid balanced between gray and sand) and up to the deconstructed jackets, born of a precise needs of the designer, bored of the classic structure of outerwear.

An attitude far removed from the Savile Row sartorial guns that prevailed in men’s fashion at the time, and which, based on subdued forms and an easier approach, indulged in changing proportions, softened the shoulders, moved the buttons to create a garment like this. the terrible anti-establishment must at the same time be considered an icon of rupture and a news manifesto. Another skin with a naturally elegant but not tight appeal, perfect radiance of the historical context in which it expressed itself, and a litmus test of the obsession with perfectionism in a creative who favored industrial production over tailoring, ushered in a new cycle of fashion. , a pret à porter that hung on the clothing industry and no longer on tailoring.

Galeotta was the jacket, and who invented it, if it is true, that the same bridal path was made, a few months later, for the woman, where the jacket itself, with an androgynous shape, formed the basis of a new concept of femininity, focused on character and far from stereotypes, where the body was valued with discretion, dressed in trouser suits, adorned with evening dresses paired with flat shoes, brightened with whispered and crepuscular colors, qualities that supported the need for practicality in the new virago ready to attack the 80s.

The events will confirm the success of an agile vision that already identified Giorgio Armani as the main exponent of Italian style, culminating in the famous cover of Time from 1982 (Giorgio’s beautiful style, Giorgio’s fantastic style), where the creative genius was recognized urbi et orbi. Before him, among the stylists, this honor had only accrued to the monsieur Christian Dior.

Giorgio Armani’s foresight did not stop so much that he was the first to perceive the potential of younger consumers, arguing that luxury should be democratized so that the largest number of people could enjoy it. It was the result of an experimental and fiercely contemporary aesthetic Emporio Armaniborn in 1981 and identified by the eagle who wrote on the phone, and as for the new generations, the logo and emblem in a way of dressing and being, less hieratic, more relaxed, but deeply rooted in time, hung between informal leather jackets and the exaggerated power of jeans, refined and redesigned to dress the body.

After the death of Sergio Galeotti (only 40 years old, in 1985), Giorgio Armani personally took over the financial control of the company and continued to spread, from the first store via Sant’Andrea in Milan around the world, the verb of the new Italian Renaissance. An inclusive vision ante litteram that made the concept of lifestyle explode by investing in couture and accessories, children’s clothing and items for the home, flowers and sweets, up to restaurants and luxury hotels, from via Manzoni in Dubai. In a groundbreaking apotheosis of the brand concept, the first Emporio Armani Caffè opened in Paris when food was not yet in vogue, Giorgio Armani has always aimed to elevate Italy’s excellence. Thus the Armani casa interior design project, which has just turned 20 years old (see MFF of 17 June) and the resulting Armani hotel, the first Armani privé haute couture collection and the improvement of the abandoned areas of the Milan that he had adopted him and that he himself wanted to pay tribute. An urban harmonization that took advantage of the regeneration of industrial spaces culminated in the headquarters in via Bergognone, born of the rubble of the former factory in Nestléin the heart of the Tortona area, the new focal point of Italian design, enriched inside by the minimalist theater signed Tadao Ando. All adorned with the Armani Silos, an exhibition space and a container of experiences capable of fluently telling the story and aesthetics of Giorgio Armani in an ideal response to those who criticized him and accused him of never changing.

But how could a charismatic and tireless man always be like himself, who has never hidden the desire to always learn from his work and constantly try to find something else? “I’m still learning this trade now, day after day. It’s a journey that never ends and that always gives me great emotions,” Giorgio Armani said in an interview with MFF (see MFF of 19 October 2018).

A lover of sports, whose rigid discipline he owes to his extraordinary physical shape, the designer took over Milane’s basketball team in 2008 Olympia which has brought back to its former glory (see MFF of June 19) and has several times signed the uniforms of the Italian national team involved in the Olympic Games. Winemaker on his beloved island of Pantelleria, he has over the years implemented several charitable initiatives, including Emporio Armani red!, With Bono Voxfor the fight against AIDS in Africa, and the Acqua for life project, which aimed to bring drinking water to communities that lacked it.

And if the awards (ranging from the nomination of the Italian Republic’s Commander-in-Chief to the Légion d’honneur through the Compasso d’Oro for Lifetime Achievement) are the notches with which to measure the official success of the creative in the world, it was Hollywood that crowned him as the perfect creator of the red carpet dress and as the privileged costume designer of textbook movies. Giorgio Armani pursues a childhood passion for film and has associated his name with films and actors who have written history, beginning with it.American gigolo in which Richard Gere he showcased a legendary wardrobe for the rhythm of the music, and passed through The untouchable, Tea in the desertthat Christian Bale from American psycho (also dressed Batman signed Nolan), the golden pair of The Counselor Fassbender-Cruz until you get to Leonardo dicaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, just to name the most famous. But the list of testimonies, celebrities and stars who have carried his creations (and who as friends simply call him Giorgio) is endless and rewards the designer’s faith, ahead of the media explosion of influences, which are public figures in affect in common. taste more than anything else.

Happy birthday, George. (All rights reserved)

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