When you hear Giorgio Armani, surely you first think of refined long dresses, timeless blazers and men’s suits. Yes, that’s Giorgio Armani, but behind all that magnificent pieces of clothing is one genius mind. A very casual, ordinary man, but very talented. A man with vision, and a man who knows at any moment what he wants and what to do. This Italian genius is well known to the entire world public, with its designs.
Giorgio formed his company, Armani, in 1975, and by 2001 was acclaimed as the most successful designer of Italian origin, and he is credited with pioneering red-carpet fashion. But, let’s start from the beginning and see how Giorgio came to that degree, and how now is part of the most Successful.
Giorgio Armani was born in Piacenza, Italy, where was raised with older brother Sergio and younger sister Rosanna, by mother Maria Raimondi and father Ugo Armani. At secondary school at the Liceo Scientifico Respighi in Piacenza, Giorgio aspired to a career in medicine, particularly after reading The Citadel. Armani enrolled in the Department of Medicine at the University of Milan, but after three years, in 1953, he left and joined the army.
Armani found a job as a window dresser at La Rinascente, a department store in Milan in 1957, after his stint in the armed forces. He went on to become a seller for the menswear department, in which capacity he gained valuable experience in the marketing aspect of the fashion industry. In 1960, Giorgio moved to the Nino Cerruti company, for which he designed menswear. In the late 1960s, Armani met Sergio Galeotti, an architectural draftsman, which marked the beginning of a personal and professional relationship that lasted for many years. In 1973, Galeotti persuaded him to open a design office in Milan, at 37 Corso Venezia. This led to a period of extensive collaboration, during which Armani worked as a freelance designer for a number of fashion houses, including Allegri, Bagutta, Hilton, Sicons, Gibò, Montedoro, and Tendresse. Exactly, this experience provided Giorgio with an opportunity to develop his own style in his own and unique way.
On July 24, 1975 he founded Giorgio Armani S.p.A. in Milan, with his friend Galeotti, and in October of that same year, he presented his first collection of men’s ready-to-wear for Spring and Summer 1976 under his own name. He also produced a women’s line for the same season.
His clothes were revolutionary at the time, introducing a more natural fit and using a subtle color palette. “My vision was clear: I believed in getting rid of the artifice of clothing. I believed in neutral colors,” he later told WWD. While his designs were popular in Europe, In America, Armani didn’t make a big splash, until 1980. His clothes were worn by actor Richard Gere in the film American Gigolo (1980), which helped generate a lot of interest in Armani. He also provided much of the wardrobe for the hit television series Miami Vice (1984-89), starring Don Johnson.
Armani and Galeotti were able to grow the business, opening up Armani stores in Milan. Armani, however, suffered a great personal and professional loss in 1985 when he lost longtime friend and business partner Galeotti to AIDS. While some thought that the business might suffer after Galeotti’s death, Armani showed the world that he was just as talented as an executive as he was as a designer.
Armani opened his first restaurant in 1989.
By the end of the 1990s, Armani had over 200 stores worldwide and annual sales of roughly $2 billion. His company continued to add to its product offerings, expanding into the home goods market and book publishing. In 2005, Armani debuted his first haute couture line. He launched this high-end venture because he liked the challenge. “Think how liberating it is for a designer to make one dress, perfectly, to satisfy only one customer,” he told In Style magazine. In 2010, he opened his first hotel in Dubai, and another one is expected to open in Milan.
Armani was the first designer to ban models with a body mass index under 18, after model Ana Carolina Reston starved herself to death due to anorexia nervosa.