There are certain names in fashion that are not only synonymous with the industry itself, but are additionally so terrifically esteemed that their couture is never  mentioned without a little sense of awe. Giorgio Armani is one of them. Incidentally, he’s also our Icon of the Week.

On July 11th 1934, Giorgio Armani was born in Piacenza to become the most successful Italian fashion designer, with an annual turnover of $1.600 billion and an estimated personal fortune of $5 billion.

But let’s start from the root of his brilliancy. Armani worked as an assitant designer to Nino Cerruti for nine years until he decided to fly the coop and freelance in 1970. In 1974, he teamed up with Sergio Galeotti to found the menswear label Armani with a startup capital of $10,000. The following year, he was joined by his sister Rosanna Armani to introduce a womenswear line.

Armani’s big international breakthrough came in 1980, when he decided to revolutionize and deconstruct box shoulder jackets into soft, sensual suits. Richard Gere wore them in American Gigolo to capture the hearts of women everywhere, subsequently catapulting Armani to international fame.

The following year, Armani feminized the casually tailored suit for his womenswear collections to much success.

Much like his initial works, Armani continues to inspire the fashion industry and is now renowned for updating timeless classics within clean, tailored lines; so much so that he’s now respected as the creator (and peerless pioneer) of subtle elegance, androgynously modern, and linear minimalism in the context of fashion.

As the years went by, the Armani empire expanded. Actually, that’s quite the understatement. To date Armani designs, manufactures, distributes and retails haute couture, ready-to-wear, shoes, watches, jewelry, accessories, eyewear, cosmetics, perfume and even home interiors under 11 high-specialised sub-labels. Some of which, you might be familiar with – they include Giorgio Armani, Emporio Armani, Armani Jeans, Armani Exchange and Armani Prive.

As you might be able to already tell, Armani’s peerless success comprised of a multitude of factors. He’s undeniably become a steady influence to society through revolutionizing the face of fashion via pioneering wearable designs, and marketing them like a shrewd businessman. 

Right from the get go, he always stayed in the limelight by dressing celebrities in timelessly iconic designs that blended varied cultural patterns. 

He is renowned as one of the fashion industry’s hardest workaholics. It’s been reported that he clocks in 12 hours of work into the company everyday.

He always kept with the times within his trademarked style, keeping Armani perpetually and iconically relevant. This includes designing Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s wedding suit and gown…

Collaborating with Samsung to create a Giorgio Armani cellphone…

Designing made-to-measure suits for Christian Bale’s character Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight

And using fashion royalty, the Beckhams, as muses for his Emporio Armani Underwear fall 2009 campaign.

He also maintained a contributing voice to the fashion industry to go along with the name. Armani was the first designer to ban models with a BMI of under 18, in response to Ana Carolina Reston starving herself to death in 2006.

However, this sometimes got him into trouble. In 2007, Armani told Time Magazine that he was convinced not to use fur, thanks to PETA campaigns. However, his Armani Fall 08 collection included fur-trimmed jackets, fur-hemmed skirts and baby fur coats, prompting controversy.

This is one of my all-time favourite designs. It’s on my Christmas list. I can dream.

We owe much gratitude to all of Armani’s contributions to fashion as we know it today. His revolutionary influence has made it almost impossible for one to imagine a fashion world without Armani.

Early last month, however, a frail 75-year-old Armani journeyed to Moscow after a bout with hepatitis and hinted at arranging his own succession for the company. He didn’t specifically announce a retirement date, though he told reporters, “I am not eternal; there comes a time when you must hand it over.”

After 35 years of an Armani-dominated fashion industry, how would you feel about a new era without him? And who do you think will take over the Armani empire?



[Photo Credits: thefashionisto, outnext, time, mforum, people, diaryofamadfashionista, catwalkqueen, lafashiondiary, knotforlife, californiastyleonline, fashionista, batchplease, telegraph, guestofaguest, coutureinthecity, theage, thatswhatshesayd]