GIORGIO ARMANI: Elegance Without Excess. Giorgio Armani is a household name synonymous with not only style and design but also incredible corporate success and branding. The fashion house of Armani is reportedly the most financially successful Italy has ever produced. The master tailor first made headlines by redefining the rules of precision and reinventing the tailored jacket. For Armani, simplicity is key. This doesn’t only apply to his unparalleled craftsmanship and subtle ingenuity however, but also his image and personal life.
Unlike many established designers, the name Giorgio Armani bears relatively little published material to his work, as well as no serious in-depth analysis of his aesthetic. Born in Picanza in 1934, there had always been early evidence of the Giorgio Armani prodigy. A sensitive and unusually fastidious child, Armani enjoyed a stable childhood in a hardworking middleclass family. His mother was a great influence in his life, as she dressed elegantly but disdained fashion.
It was not surprising to learn that her favourite colours were cream, white, taupe and grey – colours that we know today represent signature Armani. He completed his studies at the University of Bologna, after which he took a job as an assistant window dresser, and then a fashion buyer, in 1954. In 1960s, he worked at menswear company Nino Cerruti as a designer, where he developed his knowledge and understanding of tailoring, fabrics and production. It was a decade later that he met Sergio Galeotti, his partner, with whom he launched his first collection.
A pioneer of the fashion industry of the 20th century in many respects, Giorgio Armani himself is the epitome of etiquette, poise and grace – highly reflective in his designs. The Armani loyalty began with the design of the menswear tuxedo, applauded for its timeless elegance and superb fit. To wear Armani was to reflect self-confidence, power, and elegant ease. To many, it represents a status symbol. Despite this haute position in luxury, Giorgio Ar mani did not design for the traditional, and his designs were far from untouchable.
He was in fact highly adamant in the notion of wearability, and the importance of being in tune with the times. He considers it an achievement to design clothes for everyday, as that’s how he believes fashion should be in relation to its consumer – accessible, and comfortable. A signature Armani garment should not only portray elegance, but also comfort. Armani gained his fame as he challenged the ideas of rigid jackets – as well as rigid ideals. He redesigned the menswear blazer so that it patterned much simpler, with no lining, no padding, and most importantly, no stiffness.
He also extended its length, slimming lapels and creating baggy pockets to give a more modern, refined illusion. As the popularity of signature Armani skyrocketed, so did his reputation and following. It was not long before women were insistent for these menswear elements in their clothing; thus was born the Giorgio Armani Womenswear line. He deconstructed the man’s jacket and reconstructed it on the more curvaceous lines of a womens body, offering the working woman (a new concept at the time) a symbiosis of understatement and sensuality, femininity and power-dressing. Timing was perfect.
People were overcoming the “Flowerpower” phase and Armani facilitated the gap by giving women clothing that was more adapted to the future. It was Armani that developed the concept of androgyny. Armani, quite plainly, redefined early ready to wear with his radically simplistic ideas. He contrasted overdramatized French fashion with more classic Italian fashion, claiming that wome n need a lot less in their clothing these days. The Armani vision was to eliminate the superfluous, emphasize the comfortable, and stress the harmony of the most essential details – in design, materials as well as cut.
With his debut of WRTW he intended to create clothing that truly reflected the lives of the women who wear it – real women. Before Giorgio Armani, fashion was constricted, not easy, and outdated. In the world of Mr. Armani, practical and co mfortable are two words that remains an illustration of important fashion prerequisites. Through his childhood Armani had developed a love of textiles. He thus emphasized the importance of quality fabrics. Leather, linen, silk and textural weaves became inherent in his designs. The Armani colour palette rom birth has always been a combination of understated sophistication, bearing a predominant blend of muted and neutral hues. Fascinated by fabrics, he consistently played with the notions of masculinity and femininity. His craftsmanship was immaculate, and he eventually reigned in the indulgence and luxury of eveningwear. The 1970s proved to be a year of success for Armani, as it was around this time that his designs were first brought into the U. S via Barneys New York. His success in the city that never sleeps cemented his future.
While Europe was still set on traditional ideals, the American consumer was significantly more open-minded and experimental. Till today, Giorgio Armani says that the American woman was his first client, as his silhouette depicted the casual feeling of American tailoring and fabrication. By 1999, the Giorgio Armani brand had 250 stores on five continents. His knack for business led him to lead the company on a more corporate wavelength. Armani today comprises of several lines, 9 fragrances, and a range of licenses in products from watches to umbrellas.
Many of the lines Armani designs for are run rather commercially, where he bases much creativity according to the market. Regardless, Giorgio Armani consistently manages to maintain his design and style philosophy while simultaneously keeping fresh and current. Despite evolving trends and commercial/market demand, Armani has always been loyal to his elegant, timeless aesthetic. While he acknowledges fashion, he is not dominated by the need of novelty in every collection – and remains a critique of the flamboyancies and increased sexuality of the works of his industry peers.
The key to his inspiration behind each collection was “renewal without rejecting the past”. Despite his love for the simplistic 30s and 40s, an era he was always influenced by, he began to play with various ethnicities and cultures in his designs. Giorgio Armani was always fascinated by the orient, fond of the pureness, colours and hues of the Japanese culture. He believes that touches of ethnicity soften the rigidity of a garment, adding to his vision of a women’s relationship to her clothes – the fulfillment of a dream.
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