In these days of July, there’s a very special birthday to celebrate. It’s Giorgio Armani‘s, the king of Italian fashion. He’s one of the most famous designers in the world, the very first to design ready to wear in Italy, and today he’s at the top of his empire, built on fashion collections, hotels, eyewear, fragrances and even a basketball team! Are you ready to discover more about Giorgio Armani? You only have to stay tuned!
From the beginning to the Seventies: women dressed like men
Did you know that Giorgio Armani could have become a doctor? Probably he would have been the best in the world, but luckily, we’ll never know. Born in 1934 in Pavia, Armani left medical school in 1957, and he started working as a merchandiser at La Rinascente in Milan, hired by his friend Rachele Enriquez. At that time, the Milanese department store is a real factory of artists and talents, in which Armani worked to shape La Rinascente’s imagery.
This job experience brought Armani to work in the fashion industry, and in 1964 he started working at Cerruti, becoming menswear brand Hitman‘s creative director until 1970. He worked as a freelance as well, for fashion companies like Gibò, Montedoro, Sicons and Tendresse. In 1966 he met Sergio Galeotti, who persuaded Armani to found his own brand.
In 1975 Armani and Galeotti, a couple at work and in real life, founded Giorgio Armani. Everything began on July 24th in Corso Venezia 37 in Milan, together with the assistant Irene Pantone, who is still one of the most important women in the company after more than 40 years. In 1976, Armani staged his first runway show at Milan’s Hotel Palace, with womenswear ready to wear collection inspired by men’s wardrobe, with tweed suits and masculine jackets that enhanced the feminine silhouette. Since the very beginning, it’s pretty clear Giorgio Armani’s aesthetic: he loved to dress women as men, mixing empowerment, elegance, energy, and luxury. The first businesswomen needed not to dress up like men, but their clothes needed to express their management skills. They found an answer in Armani’s style.
Thanks to his aesthetic, Armani gained fame and success soon in the fashion industry. In 1978 Diane Keaton wore an Armani jacket when she got the award as best actress for Annie Hall. One year later, the designer conquered the Neiman Marcus Award.
The Eighties: Armani launched new collections
In the Eighties Armani started to shape his brand as a real luxury group, with different brands and licensee agreements. He signed his first partnership with L’Oréal to create a beauty brand. Fragrances like Acqua di Giò, after more than 30 years, are still best sellers. In 1981 Armani launched the young line Emporio Armani, followed by Armani Jeans and Armani Junior. In 1982, Armani’s fashion debuted on movie screens: the designer created Richard Gere’s clothes for American Gigolò, bringing his style all over the world.
After ten years since his debut, Armani was on top of the fashion world. But during this anniversary, the designer lost Sergio Galeotti, who died in 1985 after a long illness. The designer even thought to leave the fashion industry, but he realized he couldn’t give up and he kept on working like he was making a tribute to Galeotti.
At the end of this decade, in 1988, Armani signed another important partnership with Luxottica to launch an eyewear collection.
The Nineties: Armani became a luxury group
In the Nineties, Giorgio Armani worked to strengthen and reinforce its group. After launching so many successful clothing lines, he started to acquire many factories in Italy, to guarantee the best handmade production for his brands. In 1991, he launched A|X Armani Exchange, followed by Giorgio Armani Collezioni.
At the end of the Nineties, Europe was the battlefield of the luxury war between French conglomerates Lvmh and Ppr (now Kering) to acquire iconic fashion brands. Both Bernard Arnault and François Pinault courted King Giorgio, but he answered no to both.
The 2000s: Armani group expands to basket and hotellerie
In 25 years, Giorgio Armani turned his brand into a real fashion colossus that expressed Made in Italy in the world. But he still had many goals to accomplished. In 2000 he launched e-commerce and opened Armani/Manzoni, the Milanese concept store home to Emporio Armani Caffé and Nobu restaurant, while a year after he unveiled his new headquarter in via Bergognone, designed by Tadao Ando. In 2001, Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao celebrated his 25 years in the business with a huge exhibition.
In 2004, everything was about sport: Armani launched new sportswear brand EA7, and he became the majority shareholder of basketball team Olimpia Milano. In 2005, haute couture brand Armani Privé brand debuted in Paris, as well as the partnership with Emaar Properties to develop luxury hotels in the world. The first Armani Hotel was opened in Dubai in 2010, followed a year later in Milan.
In 2015, during the 40th anniversary of his brand and Milan’s Expo, Giorgio Armani donated to the city the Armani/Silos, a museum dedicated to his work, opened during the World Expo.
Giorgio Armani in 2018
Armani today is at the helm of a group with 2 billion euros turnover, with hundreds of stores all over the world and 8 billion net worth. In 40 years, Giorgio Armani has become the emblem of Made in Italy and he’s one of the few entrepreneurs to decide to stay independent. Last year, the designer outlined his succession plans, pushing away speculations about Ipos or mergers.
Celebrities love Armani’s style, that’s why his brand is on every red carpet. His ambassadors? Cate Blanchett, that also stars in Sì fragrance advertising campaign, Diane Kruger, Marion Cotillard and Nicole Kidman. The latest event that saw Armani surrounded by all his clients was the Armani Privé Fall Winter 2018 fashion show, unveiled at the Italian Embassy in Paris.
How to follow Armani on social networks? There are many accounts you need to follow: @giorgioarmani, dedicated to the main brand, @emporioarmani and @armaniexchange. Beauty addicted’s fave is @armanibeauty, with all the latest news about makeup collections and fragrances.
There’s just one thing to do to to get more into Armani world: take a look at our gallery below, with all the best looks from the Armani brands. Don’t forget to watch the Stories on The Blonde Salad Instagram account, to discover more about this amazing brand!