Forza fashion: Armani’s pioneering vision | Fashion


“As always for me, the best ideas are intuitive ideas:“ Giorgio Armani reflects on his casting of Posh and Becks that defined the era in his advertising campaign for Emporio Armani underwear in 2008. ”During these For years, David and Victoria were the center of attention, “he recalls.” In a reflection of their respective personalities, they embodied the moment: the metrosexual man and the attractive woman with a fierce entrepreneurial outlook. And they both paid the utmost attention to their physical appearance. [so] Having them in their underwear seemed like the right idea… and it took very little effort to persuade the two of them.

Armani – or Mr. Armani as the fashion industry informally-officially calls him – is a man who is no stranger to having the right idea. Aside from his multi-billion pound Giorgio Armani empire, his Emporio Armani brand for which he managed to make the most talked about couple in the world an example. Established in 1981 as a more liberal cross-platform to complement its eponymous main line after seeing “a gap in the market and young people’s hunger for something new and fresh”, it proudly marked its 40th anniversary.e anniversary this year with an exhibition in his native Milan retracing his trajectory.

Bare essentials: an advertising panel for Emporio Armani underwear in 2008. Photography: courtesy of Giorgio Armani

“I wanted to show how innovative the brand has been since its very beginnings,” says Armani, 87, who, like many designers of his generation – notably the late Karl Lagerfeld – is “fiercely anti-nostalgic”. Initially, he said he “resisted the idea” of the exhibition but, young at heart, he said he “changed our mind when we went from the retrospective format to adopt the concept of the exhibition as an experience and a living manifesto ”.

A visual blitz through the past, The Way We Are is quite Armani’s tribute to living in the present, documenting key moments such as his first men’s and women’s clothing shows in 1985 and his iconic touring campaigns. by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. , Peter Lindbergh and longtime Armani collaborator Aldo Fallai.

Perfect presentation: The Way We Are exhibition.
Perfect presentation: The Way We Are exhibition. Photography: courtesy of Giorgio Armani

“Honestly, that sounds like an accomplishment,” reveals Armani in a rare moment of self-congratulation. “The collection that grew out of my desire to speak to the younger generations has become an essential part of the Armani lifestyle as a whole: one that speaks a metropolitan language that still retains my clean and essential idea of ​​elegance. The brand’s early years, he continues, “are the ones I love the most, simply because we kept experimenting to find the right communication language, the perfect tone of voice for such a new collection.

If that sounds like familiar rhetoric in today’s era of brands rushing to “talk” to Gen Z, in 1981 Armani’s methods were pioneering. One of the most undermined assets owned by Emporio Armani for the exhibition is the brand’s huge bimonthly glossy magazine, launched in 1988 and which helped lay the foundation of the fashion industry by adopting the concept of combining content and commerce.

Fast forward: the cover of Emporio Armani magazine, 1994.
Fast forward: the cover of Emporio Armani magazine, 1994. Photograph: Max Vadukul / Courtesy of Georgio Armani

“Today it’s normal for fashion brands big and small to produce content of all kinds, but in 1988 Emporio Armani Magazine was something new,” says Armani, attributing his sister Rosanna for the help. to “create a product that was much more than a catalog: a real magazine, in which the photographic reports on the collection… were accompanied by articles devoted to the most diverse subjects, written by eminent authors.

To mark the brand’s anniversary, Armani has commissioned a special issue of the publication for which features current Italian icons, including Ferrari F1 drivers – and Armani ambassadors – Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in conversation; actor Pierfrancesco Favino on what it means to be an actor; and acclaimed GQ editor-in-chief Masafumi Suzuki on the power of costume alongside filming of current collections.

“I think prints will never die, because in the age of the ephemeral, they stay,” he says. “This is the statement I wanted to send with this special and unique issue of the magazine. I wanted to offer an image of this moment which, in twenty or forty years, will still seem relevant and current.

The anniversary could not pass without an ode being made to Milan, the city to which Armani is considered royalty. The hangar at Linate Airport, which has hosted Emporio Armani arrivals since 1996 in scintillating signage on the skyscrapers, is celebrated in all its glory (“[I] to like people to feel welcomed in a city which has always expressed modernity, energy, an optimistic vision of the future; international metropolis with an Italian soul, just like Emporio) and the famous ‘Broletto’ billboard in central Milan which, in addition to the Beckhams, saw oversized Cristiano Ronaldo and Rafael Nadal in their underwear (he has a weak for sports, he admits, by virtue of the “discipline, hard work and teamwork” to which he relates), the two take center stage.

Fly high: Giorgio Armani pictured for Designers's World in Elle magazine, May 1997.
Fly high: Giorgio Armani pictured for Designers’s World in Elle magazine, May 1997. Photograph: Jean-Marie Périer / Courtesy of Giorgio Armani

“I’m quite proud of the fact that Broletto billboards have become a part of the Milanese cityscape and, as such, a landmark,” he says. “What started out as a new idea – taking the bold language of traditional advertising and bringing it into the fashion world – has turned into a never-ending series of surprises that engage and entertain anyone who walks by from this place. ” During the pandemic, Armani – who donated more than 2 million euros to hospitals in Milan, Rome, Bergamo, Piacenza and Versilia during the first devastating months – avoided the billboard advertising to “send messages of hope, support and happiness. . It’s a blank canvas that allows me the freedom to communicate in a very direct way, and I really like that.

It’s a sentiment he applies to his vision of Emporio Armani in his 40s.e year and for the future. “It represents a set of values ​​that are not just aesthetic, even though they are based on my appreciation of simplicity and elegance,” he says. “The only way to push the limits is to continue to look at the world, the evolution of society and to act in an inventive way. Fashion, for me, is always a reflection, and sometimes also an anticipation, of the moment.

Emporio Armani – The Way We Are is exhibited at Armani / Silos in Milan until February 6, 2022