Giorgio Armani gave a big belly laugh – shaking a smooth stomach streamlined by daily exercise over the last three decades.
“Look!” He said, pointing down to a model’s marginally quirky footwear – compared to her trim and slim outfit.
https://www.instagram.com/p/B44ZvP3n24_/?utm_source=ig_embedI understood the message. Earlier, in the library of the designer’s Milan campus – that spare building created by Japanese architect Tadao Ando – we had talked about English eccentricity. That is the reason, the Italian maestro thinks, why the UK has been so tardy in acknowledging his position in the fashion firmament.https://www.instagram.com/p/B44cdH7HGtB/?utm_source=ig_embed
“This award means something to me – it’s so important and prestigious,” Armani said, referring to the Outstanding Achievement award he will receive on Monday, 2 December, at the 2019 Fashion Awards held by the British Fashion Council at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
“Even though I am the last – and I am not going to forgive the English for that,” the designer, 85, said with another wide grin. “Maybe it’s because I don’t do eccentric fashion, English people have only now understood my evolution.”
And why is that?
“I know that the old style of English fashion for men is over – it changed, the world has changed – no one smokes pipes any more,” Armani replied. “There aren’t that many clubs for older people – so fashion cannot live in the past. But thanks to British eccentricity, they have managed to break the rules of fashion and move it forward.”
All this was said before Mr Armani (as he is known throughout his mighty empire) had put on a display at his Milan hotel of a brand new business: fine jewellery with a black and white theme of diamonds, onyx and rose gold with a few flashes of colour. This was the first time he has extended his kingdom into diamonds and pearls (apart for his one-off high jewellery pieces for the Privé couture collection).https://www.instagram.com/p/B45QsPVn_oC/?utm_source=ig_embedAs if a new jewellery venture were not enough, another display before the on-stage show offered a past-and-present exhibition of accessories. Laid out in the Armani/Silos building, which serves as a fashion museum opposite his headquarters, the designer had decided to show vignettes of his accessories. The display, named “Accent of Style”, melds pieces he had designed 40 years ago alongside current bags, shoes and decoration.https://www.instagram.com/p/B44VxN-Hl8d/?utm_source=ig_embed“We have done hundreds and millions of accessories over the years, but nobody talks about them and I am frustrated,” the designer said about pieces inspired by nature or evening accessories with glittering surfaces.https://www.instagram.com/p/B44c1SoHHm0/?utm_source=ig_embed“My challenge is not to be able to sell accessories,” he announced, with a hint of irony that pervades his apparent solemnity. “Everybody tells me that the fortune of all the other brands is that they sell mostly accessories. I sell very few – so I can always sell more. I do fashion, sports clothes, young people’s clothes – but accessories are not quite there yet.”
With this new enthusiasm, the designer has recently opened a store – and plans a further one – in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: the historic covered arcade leading to the cathedral. This is where all the heavyweight luxury companies are now installed and Armani has a dedicated space for bags, especially his newly reissued La Prima design.https://www.instagram.com/p/B44U6P-nNlT/?utm_source=ig_embedAt the pre-autumn/winter 2020 show (the first time this fashion range had been shown publicly by the designer), I noted that the models were swinging bags and wearing bold jewellery. But the essence of the collection was – as ever – trousers and jackets: the former softer and the latter more curved. The mix was ultimately based on the famous Armani masculine-meets-feminine look, with male models in variations of classic tailoring. Its surprise factor was the introduction of a Chinese lacquer red.