Martin Scorsese and Giorgio Armani
In 1990, a Martin Scorsese short documentary about Giorgio Armani, titled Fatto a Milano (Made in Milan) was released to little fanfare and had been practically forgotten until it was brought back to the attention of the public a few months ago. Why it has not been much talk about it, it’s very surprising. What with all the constant fashion documentaries being made and being ranked on all kinds of ‘best of’ lists, it is even harder to understand why this beautiful piece of work, that not only predates the current landscape of fashion films, but also Armani’s own book (I wrote about it here), released two years ago, 25 years after the documentary was made, has been overlooked. Or it may be that others have long known about it, and I haven’t. However, I myself only recently discovered it, and if it is news to you, too, you can watch it here (you should bear in mind that the original version lasts about 25 minutes, unlike the shortened 10-minute-long latest release).
Giorgio Armani, the book
Giorgio Armani and Martin Scorsese’s partnership has been deep and lasting, just as the influence of films in the designer’s work. The two first worked together on some Armani commercials and the short documentary, then on Goodfellas (1990) and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). Armani actively supports and funds Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation, focused on preserving and restoring neglected film gems. They also collaborated on Scorsese’s 2001 documentary on Italian cinema. In 2015, Armani even teamed up with La Cinémathèque Française in Paris to support an exhibition dedicated to Martin Scorsese. The designer’s passion for cinema is well known, naming it his first great love.
Scorsese, in return, expressed his admiration and respect for the Italian designer in his letter to his long-time friend, appeared in Vanity Fair , in August 2015, preceding the 40th anniversary of the Italian fashion house: “I look at Giorgio’s clothes, at his sense of balance and proportion, line and shape, color and texture, and I’m always astonished all over again. It doesn’t matter who’s wearing them – he makes us all look good. Part of it is because we feel good wearing his clothes.”
Giorgio Armani, the book
You can definitely notice Scorsese’s classic cinematic style come through in this Armani film portrait, as the director likes to call it, which was written by a long-time collaborator of Scorsese’s, Jay Cocks (Gangs of New York, Mean Streets) and edited by another valued and long-term collaborator, Thelma Schoonmaker. The film, voiced entirely by Armani, follows the designer through Milan, the city that breathes life into his collections, his “chosen city”, where he lives and works, through his studio and onto the runway. Milan is a city that respects you and lets you express yourself, he says, “if you have something to say”, he adds. Armani is subtle, just like his clothes. He is a perfectionist, too. “I think of myself as someone who is a beginner, not as someone who has already said a lot”.
Armani talks about his personal style, about his dressing uniform, about the colour blue. “Why blue? Because I think blue looks good on me.” He talks about his work, about the jacket, where it all started. “I have always insisted upon rigorous simplicity. I can’t stand exhibitionism. It’s all a process… searching for elegance… knowing where to look… then finding it… hidden away.” He is shown before one of his shows, preparing the models, supervising every single detail, directing them before sending them on the catwalk. He talks about his past, while still remaining reserved. He has always been influenced by his own past and his family’s, and by the past of the cinema, but has tried not to be trapped by it. The cinema, which, more than his own fashion collections, can reward him in the most satisfying of ways: eternity. “Society changes, and my clothes change with it. But I try to filter my own ideas through a daily reality. It’s as if I were on a movie set. Life is the movie and my clothes are the costumes.”
photos: 1-Marie Claire Italia / photos from sets one and two taken by me from the book Giorgio Armani, published by Rizzoli / set 1: Peter Lindbergh, Giorgio Armani Women FW 1993-94; Aldo Fallai, Giorgio Armani Men SS 1992; Jacques Olivar, Giorgio Armani Women SS 1990/ set 2: Bob Krieger 1978; personal archive of Giorgio Armani, the designer at work in his studio on Via Durini, Milan, 1978; personal archive of Giorgio Armani, Pantelleria, 1995