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Giorgio Armani (pronounced [ˈdʒordʒo arˈmaːni]; born 11 July 1934) is an Italian fashion designer, particularly noted for his menswear. He is known today for his clean, tailored lines. He formed his company, Armani, in 1975, and by 2001 was acclaimed as the most successful designer to come out of Italy, with an annual turnover of $1.6 billion and a personal fortune of $7 billion as of 2012.
He was born in the northern Italian town of Piacenza, where he was raised with two other siblings along with his mother and father. Armani aspired to a career in medicine after reading A. J. Cronin's The Citadel, and enrolled at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. In 1953, after two years of studies, he was called to military service, which included working in a military hospital. The experience convinced him that he was not cut out to be a doctor.
After his stint in the armed forces Armani found a job as a window dresser at La Rinascente, a department store in Milan.
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 the mid-1960s, Armani moved to the Nino Cerruti company, for which he designed menswear. His skills were in demand, and for the next decade, while continuing to work for Cerutti, Armani also freelanced, contributing designs to as many as ten manufacturers at a time. 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. The international press was quick to acknowledge Armani's importance following the runway shows at the Sala Bianca in the Pitti Palace in Florence. The experience provided Armani with an opportunity to develop his own style in new ways. He was now ready to devote his energy
to his own label, and in 1975 he founded Giorgio Armani Spa in Milan with his friend Galeotti. 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.
Armani established an innovative relationship with industry, characterized by the 1978 agreement with Gruppo Finanzario Tessile (GFT), which made it possible to produce luxury ready-to-wear in a
manufacturing environment under the attentive supervision of the company's designer. In 1979, after founding the Giorgio Armani Corporation, Armani began producing for the United States and introduced the Mani line for men and women. The label became one of the leading names in international fashion with the introduction of several new product lines, including G. A. Le Collezioni, Giorgio Armani Underwear and Swimwear, and Giorgio Armani Accessories. In the early 1980s the company signed an important agreement with L'Oréal to create perfumes and introduced the Armani Junior, Armani Jeans, and Emporio Armani lines, followed in 1982 by the introduction of Emporio Underwear, Swimwear, and Accessories. A new store was opened in Milan
for the Emporio line, followed by the first Giorgio Armani boutique.
Armani's concern for the end user culminated in the development of a more youthful product with the same level of stylistic quality as his high-end line, but at a more accessible price.
Because of the democratic nature of the Emporio line, Armani felt that he had to make use of new and unconventional advertising methods. These included television spots and enormous street ads, together with a house magazine that was sent out by mail to consumers, faithful Armani Eagle wearers. Armani also felt that a relationship with the cinema was essential, both for promotional reasons and for the stimulus to creativity. He designed the costumes for American Gigolo (1980), the success of which led to a long-term collaboration with the world of film. Armani designed costumes for more than one hundred films, one of the most important of which was The Untouchables (1987).
In 1983 the designer modified his agreement with GFT. They began to produce both the Mani line for the United States and his high-end ready-to-wear line, rechristened Borgonuovo 21, after the address of the company's headquarters. During the late 1980s, despite Galeotti's death (1985), Armani continued to expand commercial horizons and licensing agreements. He opened Armani Japan and introduced a line of eyeglasses (1988), socks (1987), a gift collection (1989), and a new "basic" men's and women's line for America known as A/X Armani Exchange (1991). After the frenetic expansion of the 1990s (sportswear, watches, eyeglasses, cosmetics, home, and new accessories collections), 2000, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the brand, saw a flurry of investment
activity, including stock sales and the acquisition of new manufacturing capacity intended to increase Armani's control over the quality and distribution of his products.
Armani's men's and women's skiwear and ski casualwear line was developed in 1995. His 1991 project, A/X: Armani Exchange, represented Armani's attempt to break into the American mass market, offering lower prices for the relaxed chic clothes. He also prepared to break in the Chinese market by opening up his first store in that country in 1998.
The small shop in Beijing was followed by a flagship store in Shanghai in 2004 and plans for 40 by 2011. In 2000, Giorgio Armani SpA was introducing new lines of cosmetics and home furnishings, and expanding its line of accessories. At the same time, the Guggenheim Museum in New York hosted an exhibition of Armani's work, a first for a living designer. With average attendance of 29,000 a week, the show featured Armani's eveningwear for women, which although one of the designer's strong areas, was not even his main interest.
In 2008 Armani designed the bullfighting costume, called the "Goyesco", worn by Spanish bullfighter Cayetano Rivera Ordóñez at the "Corrida Goyesca" in Ronda, Spain. They have also collaborated on several fashion shows and other events.
As of 2009, Armani has a retail network of 60 Giorgio Armani boutiques, 11 Collezioni, 122 Emporio Armani, 94 A/X Armani exchange, 13 Armani Junior, and 1 Giorgio Armani Accessori spread over 37 different countries.
Armani was the first designer to ban models with a body mass index (BMI) under 18, after model Ana Carolina Reston starved herself to death due to anorexia nervosa.
Armani broadcast his collection live on the Internet, a first in the world of haute couture, on 24 January 2007. The Armani Privé Spring/Summer 2007 fashion show was broadcast via MSN and Cingular cellular phones.
After LG teamed with Prada to introduce the LG Prada phone, Samsung joined Armani to design the Giorgio Armani phone.
Armani designed made-to-measure suits for Christian Bale's character Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight.
Advertisements featuring "Giorgio Armani for Bruce Wayne" were released in 2008 with pictures of Christian Bale wearing Armani suits. However, Bale later claimed in a GQ interview that the campaign was produced without his permission.
Giorgio Armani has a keen interest in sports. He is the president of the Olimpia Milano basketball team,Inter Milan fan, and has twice designed suits for the England national football team. He has since designed suits worn by players of the London club Chelsea since August 2007. He designed the Italian flag bearers' outfits at the opening ceremony at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin and has been chosen to design Italy's Olympic uniforms for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London Armani also designed and introduced the EA7 range, a brand inspired by Ukrainian footballer Andriy Shevchenko, who at the time played for A.C. Milan and wore the number 7 jersey.
The Chelsea Football Club has commissioned Armani to create a new look for its Directors' Suite at Stamford Bridge. To be called the "Armani Lounge," the dining room and lounge area serves as the principal meeting place on matchdays for the Chelsea Board of Directors and for the entertainment of VIP guests. In total the "Armani Lounge" covers 200 square metres for which Giorgio Armani has personally designed a unique concept featuring furnishings from his Armani/Casa home interiors collection.
Description above from the Wikipedia article Giorgio Armani, licensed under CC-BY-SA, full list of contributors on Wikipedia.
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