When talking about Italian fashion, there is one name which immediately springs to mind – Giorgio Armani. An influential fashion designer and icon, the founder of the globally respected Armani brand is the most successful designer that Italy has ever produced and is responsible for countless innovations within the industry including helping to pioneer red-carpet fashion. With his birthday coming up this month, we look at how Giorgio Armani became one of the most recognisable names in fashion.
Giorgio Armani was born in the northern Italian town of Piacenza, where he was raised alongside his older brother and younger sister. While attending school in the area, Giorgio was inspired to pursue a career in medicine; a desire which lead him to enroll in the Department of Medicine at the University of Milan. However, Giorgio quickly changed his mind about his future career, and after three years he left the University to join the army. Because of his medical background, he was assigned to the Military Hospital in Verona, where he would frequently attend shows at the famous Verona Arena. After finding a new inspiration, the future designer decided to take his talents in an entirely new direction.
A New Direction
After leaving the army Giorgio moved to Milan where he found a job at a department store, starting as a window dresser and eventually becoming a seller for the menswear department. In the mid-1960s, Armani moved to the Nino Cerruti company, for which he designed menswear. His skills were in demand, and for the next decade, while continuing to work for Cerutti, Armani also contributed designs to as many as ten manufacturers at a time. With the encouragement of his friend and colleague Sergio Galeotti, Giorgio opened a design office in Milan in 1973, where he would create pieces for renowned fashion house such as Allegri, Bagutta, Hilton, Sicons, Gibò, Montedoro, and Tendresse. This experience provided Armani with an opportunity to develop his own style in new ways, and won him widespread approval from the press and fashion industry alike. He was now ready for his next venture.
The Beginning Of A Legend
In 1975 Giorgio founded Giorgio Armani S.p.A. in Milan, presenting his first collection of men's ready-to-wear under his own name in October of the same year. Armani established an innovative relationship with industry, characterised by the 1978 agreement with Gruppo Finanzario Tessile (GFT), which made it possible to produce luxury ready-to-wear in a manufacturing environment under the attentive supervision of the company's designer. Within the next few years Armani began producing for the United States and introduced the Main line for men and women, which quickly became one of the leading names in international fashion, as well as entering into the perfume world following an agreement with L'Oréal. Following this success a new store was opened in Milan for the Emporio line, which offered more youthful products with the same level of stylistic quality as his high-end line, but at a more accessible price.
Armani On Film
Because of the democratic nature of the Emporio line, Armani felt that he had to make use of new and unconventional advertising methods. These included television spots and enormous street ads, together with a house magazine that was sent out by mail to consumers. Armani also felt that a relationship with the cinema was essential, both for promotional reasons and for the stimulus to creativity. He designed the costumes for American Gigolo (1980),the success of which led to a long-term collaboration with the world of film. In fact, he went on to design costumes for more than one hundred films, one of the most important of which was The Untouchables (1987).
Fast forward to the present day and the Armani brand is just as relevant, exciting and innovative as ever – a truly iconic fashion house, created and grown by a truly iconic fashion designer.