Giorgio Armani: From Nothing to Everything

Born in a simple family in Piacenza, a town in northern Italy, Giorgio Armani was the second child of a transport executive and a housekeeper. He and his older brother and younger sister (Sergio and Rosanna) grew up in a time of hardship in Italy, when World War II was spreading horror all around Europe. He was not brought to fame by his parents, but did everything on his own and this is exactly what makes Armani’s history so fascinating.

During his childhood (which he spent in a small town outside Milan), he found one special place where he could set his imagination free. “The cinema in Milan was a refuge, a place of dreams”, he once told Harper’s Bazaar, “and the movie stars seemed so glamorous. I fell in love with the idealized beauty of Hollywood stars”. Back then he had no idea that he would one day be dressing up other beautiful Hollywood stars. Actually, his fashion career wasn’t even his first choice as a young man.

He was fascinated by anatomy from an early age, when he made “dolls out of mud with a coffee bean hidden inside”. When he grew older he went to Bologna in order to build himself a career as a doctor. He spent two years at the University of Bologna studying medicine, but in 1953 he left school and went to complete his military service, where he also worked in a military hospital. It was here that Giorgio was convinced that he was not cut to be a doctor.Giorgio Armani From Nothing to Everything (6)He consequently dropped out of school and started working as a window dresser at a renowned Milan department store, called La Rinascente. Later he became a seller in the menswear department and learned a little bit about marketing and the fashion industry. Armani later said that it was his experience at La Rinascente that helped him develop his unique style, characterized by clean lines and understated elegance. His next important career step was accepting a job as a designer at Nino Cerruti fashion house, where he created menswear. During the next decade Armani continued to develop his skills at Cerruti, while also working as a freelance, selling designs to some ten different manufacturers of the time.

In 1960 (at age 26) he met Sergio Galeotti, an architectural draftsman who later became the friend and partner who convinced him to open a design office in Milan in 1937. Armani continued to also work as a freelance for many important fashion houses of the time, which led to international press acknowledgement of his talent. This naturally led to the establishing of his own label in 1975, together with his friend, Sergio Galeotti. They founded Giorgio Armani Spa in Milan and that same year they launched Armani’s first Spring/Summer collection of men’s ready-to-wear. Soon afterwards he also launched a Spring/Summer collection for women.Giorgio Armani From Nothing to Everything (4)It wasn’t long before Armani conquered the luxury world with his creations. In 1979 he founded the Giorgio Armani Corporation and started creating for the United States as well. Here too his popularity grew fast, bringing him closer and closer to being named the most successful designer ever to emerge from Italy. Being more than just a very talented designer, Armani also knew how to advertise his brand in an innovative and very effective way. Huge street advertisements, television spots, mail-sent magazines and even a special relationship with the cinema world (he designed costumes for over 100 films, the first being “American Gigolo” in 1980), all these ensured him an enormous success.

Today Giorgio Armani is known for having introduced the very comfortable unstructured jacket for men and the wide-shouldered look for executive women. An understated glamour characterizes all his creations and many Hollywood stars of today often turn to him when they feel like upgrading their luxe wardrobe. Now the Armani empire includes many different brands, like Emporio Armani, Armani Jeans, Armani Collezioni, Armani Casa and Armani Junior. Cosmetics and accessories by Armani are also available for fashion lovers.

So how does all this influence Giorgio’s personal life? First of all, it brings pots of money to his pockets every single day. His personal fortune rises to a whopping $7 billion according to Forbes and his annual turnover is of $1.6 billion. Even so, he once told Vogue that his private life is “absolutely banal”. Of course, his own definition of the word must be very different than ours. He is a vegetarian and avoids both tobacco and alcohol. As a former body builder, Giorgio Armani takes good care of his health, which at 77 years old (he was born on July 11, 1934) is still in good condition.

He owns a 400-year-old palace, two other mansions in Italy and pretty much everything one could ever dream of. It’s actually quite hard to believe that he started out as a poor child in a poor Italian family. But this only proves again that it really doesn’t mean where you come from, as long as you know where you want to get to. In other words: “Success doesn’t come to you? You go to it!” (Marva Collins).

By : 30 Aug 2011
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