THE MULTI-HYPHENATE WHO HELPED DEFINE THE MODERN ERA OF FASHION IN THE 1980S CONTINUES AT NEARLY 87 YEARS OLD TO BE AN INDOMITABLE FORCE IN THE INDUSTRY
BY AMANDA McCOY
Last September, as the world was still reeling from the pandemic and designers took to livestreams to showcase their latest looks, fashion’s father of modernity chose to broadcast his Spring 2021 main-line show on the Italian TV network La7. Italian actor Pierfrancesco Favino narrated the opening short, a time capsule video of Giorgio Armani’s “timeless” moments, a refreshing spoonful of nostalgia for longtime fans of the 86-year-old (87 in July) style titan. He was, in fact, the first major designer to cancel attendance for his fashion show in Milan that February, but for this unflappable mainstay who has weathered war and its aftermath in his lifetime before starting a small clothing line in a Milanese department store and then an empire he could feel in his bones the world was about to take a turn.
“I suspect, as someone who has lived a life and had a great deal of experience, I have probably developed a sense of when things are genuinely serious and need a response,” Armani told Vogue.
Perhaps that’s why the “timeless” theme of his mid-pandemic show was ever-fitting for the world’s longest working designer. Born in Piacenza, Italy, in 1934 and launching his first line with architect and companion Sergio Galeotti in 1975, Armani rose to prominence for his contemporary take on style, crafting everyday wear that’s understated yet elegant, sophisticated without being stiff. His U.S. stardom catapulted in the ‘80s as Hollywood began draping leading men in his famed “Power Suits,” such as Richard Gere in American Gigolo (1980) and Don Johnson in Miami Vice. From there, his empire ascended; he pioneered the concept of fashion house-owned fine dining establishments in 1988, and today there are more than 20 Armani-helmed restaurants worldwide (some with Michelin stars), from Paris to Dubai to Manhattan’s 5th Avenue. His lifestyle brand now spans hotels, spas, cafés, art spaces, and more. Consumers can purchase an Armani floral arrangement and artisanal chocolate just as easily as a suit or blouse. In 2021, Armani’s estimated net worth is $8 billion.
But the multibillionaire magnate has no intentions of hitting cruise control, and he’ll continue to shape, and reshape, and re-reshape the future of the industry he’s dominated for decades.