The man and the fashion designer Giorgio Armani, in his own words. It couldn’t get better than this. The man is discrete, meticulous, honest, uncompromising, loyal, constant, determined, perfectionist, loathing exhibitionism and excesses, whose trust is hard to gain, who doesn’t have many friends and who needs the support of his family around him, who prefers intensive work and his work studio to parties and the limelight – everything resonates with me only too well. The designer is all of the above, too, but, ultimately, he is an innovator, a revolutionary, but one who loves the essentials, whose greatest satisfaction is seeing the clothes he’s designed on real people on the street – therein lies the uniqueness of the Giorgio Armani fashion and style.
In his very first book, Giorgio Armani, released last year, to coincide with the 40th anniversary of his brand, the designer opens up about his childhood (“I was born in Piacenza, on the banks of the River Po”, is how Mr. Armani begins his story), personal life and work, while still remaining reserved. For that, and everything else written above, my admiration and respect for the man and the designer has deepened.
This book (a beauty of a book, especially that I am lucky to own one of the 1,000 limited edition copies) has reminded me why I love fashion, and why I love fashion to be practical. And that creating your own style by following the rules that pertain to you alone is what really matters. That paying for the latest fashion girl is not important, but leaving room for the character of the clothes, and the real people they will ultimately dress, is. That staying true to yourself, to your own vision and beliefs, without compromising, counts. That cultivating true friendship is more about privacy and less about all over the place visibility. That going against what everybody else does and thinks, as long as you don’t identify with them, is fine, and even necessary. That it all resumes to being yourself, and being the best at it.
“My purpose in fashion is to offer a less severe, less rigid allure to the male figure, and a less mannered style to the female figure – all the while preserving elegance and distinction and the idea that others should notice you for your mind and your self-esteem. I imagined women in new roles, women who no longer have to pull their skirts down over their knees when they sat down or unbutton their tight jackets as soon as they took their places at the table for a business meeting. The elegance of the gesture, for me, has always been of essential importance, it is an integral part of style and one’s way of dressing.”
“Cinema allows me to work with clothes in a way that upholds my vision of style, in that I help to build a character. It’s the kind of operation that, when it really works out well, rewards you in the most satisfying of ways: eternity. A successful character surpasses the barrier of time; he or she becomes a legendary figure and not just because of the way they act, but because of the way they’re dressed.”
“Drawing is one of the most important phases in my work and unquestionably the most intensive and gratifying. It’s a passion, a moment of dialogue with myself, and a kind of research. As a designer, it’s not enough to know how to sew, you have to be able to follow a specific line of thought – and drawing is, at its basis, thinking. People underestimate the importance of drawing in fashion. But to those who insist that all you need is a computer, I reply that then the essential human factor is missing; the hand that traces the width of a pair of pants for how low a neckline on an evening dress should be.”
The print of an original, signed drawing by Giorgio Armani, enclosed in my limited edition copy.
photos of the book by me | original photography in the book: 1-Emanuele Scorcelletti, 2003, Los Angeles / 2: left: Giorgio Armani portrait by Bob Krieger, 1978; right-Bob Krieger, Fall/Winter, 1978/ 3: left-Aldo Fallai, Giorgio Armani Fall/Winter 1990-91; right-Jacques Olivar, Spring/Summer 1990 / 4: left-Aldo Fallai, Giorgio Armani F/W Men 1989-1990; right-Kurt Markus, Emporio Armani Men F/W 1994-1995 / 5: left-portrait of Giorgio Armani’s father, Ugo Armani, 1957, personal archive; right-Aldo Fallai, Giorgio Armani Eyewear F/W 1990-91 / 6: left-Norman Watson, S/S 1989; right-Billy Drago, The Untouchables, 1987 / 7: left-Bob Krieger, 1980; right-Ellen Von Unwerth, Naomi Watts, Vogue Italia, 2004 / 8:cover photo, Giorgio Armani, 1936, personal archive