He’s been called ‘the man who invented red carpet dressing’ – and since the 1970s, Giorgio Armani’s easy elegance, with its sensual European simplicity, has had a stellar following.
Giorgio Armani started his career as a display assistant and buyer for the famous Italian department store group, La Rinascente. He moved on to designing for Nino Cerruti, and in 1970 launched his own pieces – notably men’s leather bomber jackets. Armani’s designs were a world away from the suited look Italian menswear was known for – using softer, cooler fabrics like linen, and unconstructed tailoring.
By 1975, he’d launched his own label – with just $10,000. A year later, Giorgio Armani was introduced to the US via an exclusive with Barneys department store. But what probably did mody to imprint Armani onto our consciousness at that time was the film ‘American Gigolo’, with Richard Gere, in which the actor wore exclusively his designs throughout what’s become a classic movie. (It was the first of countless cinematic and operatic collaborations.)
Soon after his menswear debut, Giorgio Armani was creating womenswear, too – often in a palette of soft blue, black, brown, grey and greige, which has become a signature. ‘I have something of a habit for neutrals,’ Armani’s on record as saying. American Vogue’s editor-in-chief Grace Mirabella described his hallmark as ‘Style without excessive design. Armani dresses busy women who can’t be occupied with themselves.’ In 1994, Vogue named four great classics of women’s fashion: the Chanel suit, the Hermès Kelly bag, the Manolo Blahnik pump – and the Armani jacket.
From the late 1980s, when he opened a store on Rodeo Drive, Giorgio Armani became a go-to designer for the most famous names in Hollywood. Jodie Foster, Michelle Pfeiffer and Julia Roberts were styled by Armani for big nights – as Vogue put it, ‘even before the word “stylist” came into popular usage…’
And the love affair with Armani endures, among stars and among royals. South African Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock chose Armani for her marriage to Prince Albert II of Monaco – a duchesse silk and organza bridal gown, sparkling with 40,000 Swarovski crystals, 20,000 mother of pearl teardrops, and 30,000 gold-hued stones.
At the other end of the spectrum, Lady Gaga wore a cosmic hoop-skirted ball gown for the Grammys, and chose Armani for her ‘Monster Ball’ tour. So: what is Armani’s seemingly universal appeal? As the screen legend Sophia Loren once said, ‘An Armani dress doesn’t give you doubt or uncertainty. It’s an Armani, and that’s all you need.’
Famous for the sublime textures of his fabrics and their feel on the skin, since 1984 Giorgio Armani has also been delighting another of our senses – with equally gorgeous fragrances. It began with Eau Pour Homme – then 1996 saw the launch of men’s Acqua di Gio, which remains a classic today.
For women, we have Acqua di Gioia: a ‘hymn to nature in all its forms’, inspired ‘by the distant islands where Giorgio Armani likes to replenish his energy, and where rainwater and sea spray blend together creating a liquid that evokes the very spirit of luxuriant and fertile nature…’ Acqua di Gioia opens with a heady current of crushed mint and Calabrian lemon blossoms. Its heart is sophisticated, unexpected, with delicate, aquatic water jasmine, while the base fuses cedarwood and labdanum with touches of yellow sugar.
Armani Code for Women, meanwhile, evokes the elegance of a Giorgio Armani red carpet dress. Orange blossom – so quintessentially feminine, one of the truly noble perfumery ingredients – plays at the heart of Armani Code for Women; sambac jasmine amplifies its radiance, with Madagascan vanilla and honey offering a wonderfully soft embrace.
And of course, there is Sì – with Oscar-winning Cate Blanchett as its beautiful ‘face’ of this fragrance. Chic, sultry, intense and soft at the same time, this study in fragrant contrasts is ‘my tribute to modern femininity, an irresistible combination of grace, strength and independent spirit’, Giorgio Armani comments. It’s a masterful ‘reinvention’ of the classic Chypre family of fragrances, captivating the senses with its three accords: cassis nectar, modern Chypre and light musky wood.
And could it have a more apt name? Because when it comes to Giorgio Armani fragrances, women all over the world just want to say ‘Si‘…