Armani’s global view, from furniture to beauty
di Chiara Beghelli
4' di lettura
Ten years ago Australian biochemist Elizabeth Blackburn was awarded the Nobel prize for discovering that telomeres, the ends of our chromosomes, are responsible for cell ageing. But aside from our DNA, staying young is a question of the mind and the heart. On 11 July Giorgio Armani turned 85 and his brand will celebrate its 45th anniversary in 2020, and both the creator and his creation are fine examples of how vibrant ideas are a way of overcoming the inexorable ticking of time. Armani has reiterated on more than one occasion that he prefers the company of younger people to his peers because they continuously stimulate him to ask questions, the purest food of creativity.
As such, this milestone year has also been a year of change for the group, starting with the fashion week that has just begun. For the first time, the Giorgio Armani runway show will not form part of the event’s grand finale but will instead take place on Saturday afternoon in Palazzo Orsini, the 17th century palazzo in Via Borgonuovo and headquarters of the company since 1996, which debuted as the set for the men’s collection fashion show in June. Another decision in June brought together past and present: the debut of Armani Exchange and Emporio Armani Junior at Pitti, the show where the designer presented his first collection in 1975. In life we often find ourselves waiting for the right moment to retrace our steps or to start afresh. The choice of Kate Moss as the face of the autumn-winter 19-20 collection campaign can be seen in this light: now 45 and with 30 years of experience in front of the cameras, the British supermodel seems to have something in common with the Armani world. The events in Tokyo in May also represented a debut and a return: the fashion shows for the Cruise collections at the city’s National Museum, the first ever held by Armani in the country, paid tribute to a culture with which “Signor Armani”, as his collaborators call him, shares a great affinity. And they marked the opening of the redeveloped Ginza Tower, the 8-storey building that encapsulates the Armani lifestyle, from furnishings to clothes to the restaurant, in addition to the boutique.
Work is also ongoing at the historic New York store at 760 Madison Avenue, which was opened off the back of Armani’s breakthrough in the US following the 1980 film American Gigolo in which Richard Gere wowed Hollywood with his “made in Milan” wardrobe. Again, the works go beyond a mere restyling and instead involve a completely new design according to current retail trends like retaildential (the fusion of commercial and residential areas in the same spaces), as the buildingwill also host the Armani residences as well as that of the designer himself. The interior design studio, launched with Armani/Casa in 2000, also designed the new skyscraper in Sunny Isles Beach, Miami, 60 floors with 308 apartments, which should be complete by the end of the year having already sold 80% of its spaces. Meanwhile in the food sector, another sphere of the Armani lifestyle, 2019 has seen the reopening of the Emporio Armani Caffè in Milan and an agreement with Guido Gobino for the development of Armani/Dolci, the new 3BK restaurant that has just opened at the Armani/Hotel in Dubai, the first Armani hotel opened in 2010. In the brand universe the Sport segment has not (yet) been created although discussions continue apace: in March it was announced the Italian national football teams will be dressed by Armani until 2023, as will the Olympic and Paralympic teams at Tokyo 2020.
In the meantime, the Beauty segment has also unveiled new fragrances (over 170 launched since 1982), renewed various partnerships, such as the one with the Venice Film Festival, and even launched its first Advent calendar. Similarly, the Emporio Connected smartwatch range was enriched with new touchscreen models this year.
The creative exuberance generated by this plethora of projects and new products is accompanied by the meticulous control of Signor Armani: in an interview with the New York Times, architect Tadao Ando recalled the time he found himself symbolically sitting on each of the 558 new Armani Teatro seats to check that each one had an acceptable sightline. And while the 2018 financial statements closed with a turnover of €2.109 billion, 10% down at current exchange rates, this is the expected consequence of the group’s brand restructuring process that began 3 years ago.
With liquidity having increased by almost 30% at the same time, Signor Armani can still launch new projects with complete liberty and independence, as he has always done and proudly claimed. Then as now, he follows nothing but the flow of his creative energies which, as he has reiterated numerous times, will see him maintain direct control of his creation until the end. It is a case study that could appear in the first chapter of any book on the secret to eternal youth.