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Giorgio Armani is a Class Act

January 10, 2018

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One rarely reads quotes from Armani, the king of Italian fashion. On the other hand, Karl Lagerfeld talks nonstop as he travels on various jaunts around the world.

I once read an interview about Lagerfeld where the writer described him  “pontificating.” I laughed out loud because this verb is generally used to describe know-it-all politicians, not fashion designers.

I looked it up on the web to make sure of the meaning and there it was, “expressing one’s opinions in a way that’s pompous and annoying” and came to the conclusion that the writer was partly right. Lagerfeld is definitely opinionated, but he does it with great charm and wit.

In the October, 2017 issue of Bazaar, the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar UK, Justine Picardie, does a revelatory and fascinating interview with Armani. I learned a lot about this low-key fashion icon. 

IS HE REALLY THAT OLD?

I was stunned when I read that he’s 83-years-old because he looks 63. This means he is one year younger than Lagerfeld. Picardie describes him this way. “He looks remarkably healthy: tanned, trim, and is dressed in his signature uniform of a midnight-blue T-shirt and navy trousers.” Obviously, he loves the color blue. Why not? He has sky-blue eyes that are one of his most arresting physical features.

IS HE REALLY A BILLIONAIRE?

Yes, apparently he is. Moreover, he’s currently a rara avis: the president and owner of his own business – with a personal fortune of more than $8 billion – a true independent in an era of global conglomerates. And, he has made this near impossible feat seem easy, just as he makes his understated tailoring look effortless.

Armani on his yacht, named Main

WAS HE REALLY AFFECTED BY WW II?

Absolutely. He grew up in the northern Italian city of Piacenza, which suffered intensive bombing during World War II. In his memoir he recalls, “The fear of living in a bombed-out city, sheltering in cellars. There was no money and nothing to eat.” He was badly burned by an exploding shell – that resulted in a long spell in an Italian hospital.

DID HE REALLY TRAIN TO BE A DOCTOR?

This trauma led to his ambition to become a doctor. He spent three years studying medicine, followed by two years of compulsory military service, but eventually he decided that he needed to get a job to help support his family. He began as a window dresser, moved on to a menswear buyer and eventually fashion design where he worked with Italian textile magnate Nino Cerruti.

HOW DID HE LAUNCH HIS OWN BRAND?

In 1974, when he was 40-years-old he launched his company with his partner, Sergio Galcotti. His fashion approach combined sophistication and elegant restraint. Over the years this led to great success. As he explains, “I’m from a modest family and had modest opportunities so I basically constructed a world for myself. That’s why I love this job so much. It has allowed me to build a world where I never belonged. I wanted the world that I saw in films and read about in books.”

Richard Gere in American Gigolo, the movie where Armani made his mark

His is an inspiring story that he has brought to life. No movie or book for Armani is needed now. 

MAY WE SUGGEST…

We’re in a new year so let’s all think positive and start fresh. Take a hard look your wardrobe – then check out our stylish, easy-to-wear fashions and see what’s for you in 2018.

Shaun Nelson-Henrick


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