Giorgio Armani – Charming clothier turned hotelier who actually wanted to be a physician and aspires to be an architect!
“Yes, they have told Giorgio Armani’s story a million times before, but it still bears repeating!”
It was a grand gala ceremony when, on April 27, 2010, Armani Hotel Dubai in the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, Dubai was opened. Though Giorgio Armani had already owned several restaurants and cafes, Armani Hotel Dubai is his first luxury hotel, completely designed by him and built in partnership with Emaar Properties, a Dubai-based international developer. In fact were had visited this venue when we were working on the brand identity of a Dubai Fashion brand.
And the occasion was so massive that even the Earth exploded in excitement (Icelandic volcano eruption) and that the galaxy of dignitaries attended was as vast as the Milky Way!
And a couple of years later, on November 11, 2012, he, in partnership with Emaar Properties, opened his second hotel in Milan, the wonderful city in Italy, with a cocktail party attended by so many high profile personalities that the place looked like a star-studded sky. This occasion, as was the first one, was so grand that the skies wept of joy (it rained heavily that day with ankle deep water on the roads in the city for some hours).
(There is a talk of the duo eyeing London for their third venture.)
These two giants, Giorgio Armani and Emaar Properties PJSC, have plans to build their chain of hotels and resorts in all the big cities in the world, including Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul.
What’s so strange about entrepreneurs building hotels?
It’s strange because Giorgio Armani is not originally a hotelier though he has had some restaurants, cafes, a bar and a club.
This octogenarian, hailed as the patron saint of the Italian fashion business, began his career in fashion designing as a window dresser in 1953. Before he went to do his compulsory military service in the army, he joined a medical course because he like human anatomy but dropped out of it after he returned from the service. He joined the then popular fashion designer Nino Cerruti company to design men’s wear. In 1973, with the encouragement from his friend and partner, Sergio Galeotti, a professional draftsman, opened his own design office in Milan, while still freelancing for some of the top brands of those days. In 1975 he founded Giorgio Armani SpA, with Galeotti. In 1979, he founded Giorgio Armani Corporation and made designs for American fashion market, too.
Then in 1980, his story took a big turn with his ‘power suits’ for men which were worn by actors in the TV series Miami Vice, and by Richard Gere in the movie American Gigolo. In the same year the company introduced Armani Junior, Armani Jeans and Emporio Armani, and signed an important agreement with L’Oral to make perfumes.
In 1982, the Emporio underwear and swimwear were introduced, followed by the first Giorgio Armani boutique. He concentrated on the development of more youthful products, keeping the same stylistic high-end quality but at more affordable prices!
Though he suffered a hard blow with the death of his friend and partner, Galeotti, he somehow continued, looking after the business side as well as the designing side of the Corporation.
In 1988, he opened Armani Japan and introduced eyeglasses line, and the Italian dragon entered the Chinese market by opening his first store in Beijing.
1n 1990s there had been a binge of expansion and several new products were added to the main list: sportswear, watches, eyeglasses, cosmetics, home furnishing, and new accessories collections.
Armani men’s and women’s skiwear and ski casual wear were introduced in 1995.
By 2009, Armani had a retail network of 60 namesake boutiques, 11 Collezioni, 122 Emporio Armani, 94 A/X Armani exchange, 1 Giorgio Armani Accessories and 1 Armani Junior store in over 37 countries all over the world!
His logo, the letters G and A, curved in such a way that they form a circle with letter A’s left stroke cut in half, completing the circle on its side, shows how artistic he is, and each of the other brands has its own logo or monogram that suits the purpose.
Credits, Honors and Awards:
This ‘Founding Father’ of the Italian Fashion, has so much honor and so many credits and awards that you need a volume of thousand pages to describe them all. However, I’ll try to mention some of them in honor of my fashion icon.
The Guggenheim Museum in New York hosted an exhibition in honour of Armani’s work, a first for any living designer.
He was given the sacred task of designing the cover of a gospel book for the Pope.
He received CFDA, Council of Fashion Designers of America, International award in 1987; he was presented with honorary Doctorate from the Royal College of Art; received Bambi Award; inducted to the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style; given Gentleman’s Quarterly ‘Man of the Year’ title; promoted to the Officer of the Legion of Honor, and again received Bambi Award for ‘creativity’ in 2009, and so on.
He designed personalities; not just fashion clothes!
The stars that shone in Armani apparel:
In 1987, by clothing the cast in Kevin Costner’s movie The Untouchables, Giorgio Armani established himself in the Hollywood movie circles.
- Most of Lady Gaga’s stage and award show costumes were designed by Armani;
- some of the top actors and actresses like Angelina Jodi, Violante Placido, Zoe Kravitz, Rosabell Laurenti Sellers, Jon Hamm, Langley Fox Hemingway, etc. appeared at shows in Armani suits and dresses;
- the Italian police force had their uniforms designed by Armani; taxi drivers in Milan had their kits from Armani;
- in 2008, Armani designed ‘Goyesco’ the costume worn by a famed Spanish bullfighter;
- the England national football team adorned themselves in Armani’s suits;
- London’s Chelsea football club players wear suits made by Armani;
- The Italian flag bearers marched in Armani at the opening ceremony at 2006 Turin Winter Olympics;
- the Italian Olympic team was dressed up in Armani’s designed uniforms at 2012 Olympics in London;
- George Clooney, the top class Hollywood actor, and his attendants looked immaculate in their Armani suits at Clooney’s wedding;
- Lindy Hemming, the most reputed designer, made the Batman fame Bruce Wayne and his co-stars look elegant in Armani suits in the movie The Dark Knight Rises;
- the world famous pop singer, actress and dancer, Tina Turner, is known to declare that she is a fan of Girogio Armani, and that she dresses in Armani and travels around the world to attend his shows;
- Quvenzhane Wallis, the famous Afro-American child actress, showed up at 2013 Oscars in Armani clothes when she was nominated for best actress (and was very happy to be Armani’s ambassador for Armani Junior);
- Chinese movie actress and TV producer, Fan Bingbing, one of the cast in Iron Man 3 movie, expressed her interest in Armani’s collections in general and Armani’s Chinese gowns in particular, stating that she loves wearing Armani; and one of his spring collections was featured in a the movie The Color of the Night.
The Other Notables that wore Armani:
On May 3, 2011, the News and Features section of the Telegraph headline screamed “The Devil wears Prada, but the Church wears Armani” for the article about Monsignor Domenico Mogavero wearing £ 2,000 vestments created by Giorgio Armani (for free) at the inaugural mass at a restored church on a small Italian island where Giorgio Armani has a holiday home.
Princess Charlene of Monaco weds in Armani Prive and Beatrice Borromeo, the girlfriend of the Pierre Casiraghi, the nephew of Prince Albert of Monaco, too, wore Armani Prive at the Princess wedding; Kate Middleton, the Princess of Britain, wore a red Armani coat to the Sovereign’s Parade at the Royal Military Academy.
Even the Saint is subjected to embarrassment:
On the dark side of the Empire, there are a few titbits about an ex-employee filing a law suit on charges of sexual harassment by a senior female employee (not by Giorgio Armani) and there are these charges of non-payment for services by a group of hundred interns, which were mostly denied by Giorgio Armani Corporation and ignored by the Armani staff and fans, if not the court. There are some conversations and jokes on the Internet on whether Giorgio Armani is married or not? And the disappointing answer is ‘No, he isn’t.’ And the next juicy item that keeps the gossipmongers satiated in the fashion world, especially in Italy, is whether Armani is gay or straight. And again the answer is a straight ‘No!’
And the most surprising piece of information about this international personality is that, though being in the international fashion circles, especially in the USA and the UK, for about half a decade, he cannot, or rather do not, speak English, conversing with non-Italians only with the help of an interpreter.
Let’s wish this international ‘eligible’ bachelor of 80 who wants to be ‘not for the present but beyond’ a tremendous success in his every venture!