Giorgio Armani

Nanna Marie Lund

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA093

Fashion designer Giorgio Armani was born on 11 July 1934, in Piacenza, Italy. He grew up in a middle-class family with his three siblings during Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship. At an early age, Armani had a strong interest in anatomy and started to study medicine at the University of Bologna in 1952. He took a break from his studies the following year to do military service at a hospital. Instead of returning to his medical studies, Armani got a job at the department store La Rinascente in Milan in 1954. He started as an assistant window dresser, but was later promoted to assistant fashion buyer. In the 1960s, Armani joined the menswear company Nino Cerutti as a designer.

In 1975 Armani launched his own company with partner Sergio Galeotti, who took care of the business side of the company until his death in 1985. Armani brought high fashion into the workaday world and thereby changed the rules of contemporary fashion. He uses his knowledge of anatomy in his designs, which are characterized by casual, simple, and elegant work wear in neutral colors. Famed for timeless design free from social definitions based on age, economics, and gender, it was in his spring/summer women’s wear show of 1994 that the models first wore high heels and were dressed in a feminine style.

Armani’s style quickly became popular in Europe, but it was not until he dressed Richard Gere in the film Gigolo in 1980 that he broke into the American market. Armani became synonymous with a pleasurable and successful lifestyle. Armani’s relationship with Hollywood quickly evolved and he was the first designer to have a full-time Los Angeles assistant, who contacted actors. Because of this, he has also dressed stars such as Tom Cruise, Sean Connery, Nicole Kidman, and Sharon Stone. Additionally, Armani has designed costumes—for the Cosi Fan Tutte opera in 1994 and Joaquin Cortés’s Flamenco-fusion dance in 1996.

The Armani brand has continued to grow since it was founded. In 1981 Armani expanded the brand with the younger label Emporio Armani, which was later followed by other expansions in fashion, beauty, and interiors, controlled directly by Armani himself. Today the House of Armani encompasses the brands Giorgio Armani, Emporio Armani, Armani Privé, EA7, Armani Collezioni, Armani Jeans, Armani Junior, Armani Exchange, Armani/Casa, Armani Beauty, Armani/Ristorante, Armani/Hotels, Armani/Fiori, and Armani/Dolci. This has made the House of Armani the most financially successful Italian fashion house ever.

Giorgio Armani, Fall/Winter 1996 Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

Armani. Website. http://www.armani.com/ .

Find in Library Celant Germano, and Harold Koda. Giorgio Armani . New York : Guggenheim Museum, 2000.

Find in Library Mackenzie Suzie. ““The Gentle Touch”.” The Guardian , 11 December 2004. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2004/dec/11/fashion.shopping .

Find in Library White Nicola. Giorgio Armani . London : Carlton Books, 2000.