Fashion offers sense of joy and renewal in difficult times, says Giorgio Armani

Designers at fashion week are often asked to justify their luxurious creations when the showcase takes place against a backdrop of tumultuous global politics. For Giorgio Armani, it is about joy and renewal, he said.

Armani, who launched his eponymous brand in 1975, has had time and experience to consider the role fashion can play in these circumstances.

“This is a question I am often asked and I myself wonder what the role of fashion is in such difficult times,” he told the Guardian before his Milan fashion week show on Sunday morning. “For me, what fashion can do is convey a sense of renewal, but also joy. We aren’t changing the world, nor can we solve the world’s problems, but we can give people a moment of lightness, the feeling of being different, new and even more beautiful. These are small pleasures, but sometimes small things can make a big difference.”

It is a sentiment other big names in Milan have expressed over the course of this week. At a preview for her show on Friday, Donatella Versace told the press: “Clothes don’t give you all the strength, but some of it,” while Miuccia Prada said the starting point for her collection with her co-creative director, Raf Simons, was “an instinctive need for love and goodness … especially in a time like this”.

Armani waves to the audience after Sunday’s show. Photograph: Daniel Dal Zennaro/EPA

For his autumn/winter 2024 collection, Armani said he was inspired by winter flowers as a representation of hope. “A flower blooming in the cold is a symbol of rebirth, which is what I would like to communicate at this time,” he said.

Blooms arrived embroidered on fedoras, as 3D sequined embellishments, and appliquéd as wild flowers climbing towards the waist from the hem of full tulle skirts that represented “the power and energy of nature and the lifecycle of our planet”. Opening the show was the top model Gina Di Bernardo, who was frequently photographed for Armani in the 1980s by Aldo Fallai and whom the designer said “embodies this message”.

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Elsewhere, the grand finale of red-carpet-ready glitz that Armani is famed for came in emerald-green bandeau gowns, velvet blazer suits, and beaded corsets, as brand ambassadors Cate Blanchett and Aaron Taylor-Johnson watched from the front row. “Seeing my clothes on the red carpet still excites and inspires me without a doubt,” said the designer. “I may follow the award season with less trepidation than in the past, but it remains an important moment for me.”

Armani, who will turn 90 in July, said he intended to continue business as usual for the foreseeable future. “This will be a particularly important birthday for me,” he said. “It is cause to reflect, of course, but with one eye focused on the future and a proactive and creative mindset. I don’t think I will ever stop working because dressing people is my life’s great passion.”


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