All About Giorgio Armani

Armani's style is defined by his groundbreaking designs for men and women in Hollywood and beyond.

Born just south of Italy's fashion capital, Milan, Giorgio Armani may have seemed close to success at an early age.Despite his location, however, Armani had a circuitous route to his destiny as one of Italy's premier designers.Originally, his family planned for him to be a doctor, and he even attended medical school for a brief period of time.After some time in Italy's mandatory military and a stint with photography, Armani got a job as a window dresser at a prestigious, upscale department store in Milan.

Once again, however, the path to his success was not straight.In fact, his position as a window dresser frequently required trips to England in order to learn the trade, and it was these trips that provided much of his early inspiration.Once he was inspired by the designs he worked with in both Italy and England, he moved into the fashion world.

In the 1960s, Armani began working for Hitman, a men's clothing company by Nino Cerruti.During this time, he earned promotions and numerous posts throughout the company.In 1974, he introduced his first label for men and then began working on similar pieces for women.His ability to create these lines came with no formal training - his time in the fashion world was his only schooling in design.


Armani's designs were first recognized and acclaimed at the Sala Bianca fashion show.He unveiled jackets that used leather as everyday fabric.Although it does not seem unusual today, this ability to manipulate fabrics into surprising designs and styles defined his early career.

Approaching the 1980s, utilizing similar designs for both men and women's lines became a hallmark of Armani's design, embodied through his suit jackets.It was this blurring of the gender lines that made him famous.His men's jackets were a change from the uptight and confined look formerly worn; Armani jackets were relaxed, loose, and unlined, thus far more flattering to the wearer than the traditional styles.His women's jackets, on the other hand, embraced the culture of the big 80s.Power suits with masculine cuts and wide shoulders became the style as women began challenging men in the corporate world.

At the time, the look of Armani could best be seen in the movie American Gigolo in 1980.By dressing Richard Gere for the film, Armani earned both money and fame.It was also the start of his relationship with Hollywood.Not only does he frequently costume the characters in the movies, he just as frequently dresses the actors off screen.His signature colors of muted grays and whites and blacks complimented the power and sensuality that the decade aspired to, and today those same colors are the timeless hues many actors prefer.

More recently, Armani's designs can be found both on the red carpet and in his upscale Emporio Armani stores, created to sell a more mainstream label.Both labels have animals to represent the line.The Emporio Armani animal is an eagle, meant to signify the quick actions and purchases of the younger market for which Emporio was created.The Giorgio Armani label is represented by a lion, an animal that is perceived as a king, and one that bides its time before making decisions or purchases.

Armani's evolution earned him a retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in 2000.His success in the areas of modernizing the jacket and creating exceptional suits for both men and women make him a legend in the fashion world.In fact, he was the second fashion designer to be featured on the cover of TIME magazine in 1982, second to another groundbreaking designer, Christian Dior.

This famous designer is not without his flaws.In 1996, he was convicted of corruption and admitted to bribing tax inspectors in order to receive more lenient audits.For this crime, he paid a significant fine and was given a nine-month suspended jail term.Additionally, his relationship with fellow Italian designers is acrimonious.While many of his peers create fashions that only the richest can buy, Armani prides himself on being more accessible to all people.As a result, he is perceived as a workaholic and arrogant by some in the fashion industry.

Nevertheless, by the numbers, Armani can be considered the most successful Italian designer ever - Forbes magazine once estimated his net worth to be over 1.7 billion dollars (US).Perhaps his success can be attributed to the diversity of his work.Today, he dresses Hollywood starlets and Alitalia flight attendants, super models and English and Italian soccer teams.In the 1980s he approached high-profile individuals to wear his clothes, from LA Lakers coach Pat Riley to acclaimed actress Jodie Foster.Strategically placing his designs in movies, on the red carpet, and in the world of haute couture, Armani has earned his success and fame.

© High Speed Ventures 2011