Fashion

Giorgio Armani: ‘I’m a rule-breaker’


My earliest memory? My mother, in a black dress. She was a beautiful, elegant woman who could be sweet and strong at the same time. Rigour and dignity characterised her entire life.

I was very taken with Yves Saint Laurent when my sister and I visited him in Marrakech when we were young. We were in a run-down van, in Bermuda shorts and T-shirts. He answered the door in a pinstriped double-breasted jacket holding a small dog in his arms. He was very gracious.

I’m scared of loneliness. I don’t really suffer regret. However, if I were to relive my life, I would strive to spend more time with friends and family.

Optimistic realist is how I would describe myself. How could a pessimist be a fashion designer? The job is full of risk.

The best advice I ever received was from my mother. She said that if you wish to create beauty, only do what is necessary and no more. That idea of less is more was a doctrine I made my own. It still sustains me. Indeed, these days I find it more relevant than ever.

The worst thing anyone has ever said to me? “You can’t.” I started my company with nothing but passion and the encouragement of my business partner Sergio Galeotti [who died in 1985]. He said, “Be yourself, believe in your vision, regardless of criticism.” The results have been surprising. I would have loved to have shown him what became of what the two of us created. We started out so small.

I surprised myself when Sergio died. I had to take over the running of the whole business. I didn’t hesitate, though it was daunting and I knew I would have to learn new skills. It worked out all right.

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My temper manifests as stubbornness. On the other hand, my strong will, focus and determination have sustained me.

I’m a rule-breaker in the field of design, but I never consciously sought to create a revolution. I simply followed my instincts. I liberated people from uncomfortable tailoring and at the same time blurred the lines between what was considered to be “masculine” and “feminine” clothing and style.

What depresses me? People’s unhappiness.

I have an intolerance of unnecessary excess, and vulgarity. And this, too, I can trace back to my mother.

My greatest achievement? Creating all this – the Armani world – from scratch, with only a £400 investment from the sale of my old VW Beetle.

Armani/Casa celebrates 20 years this year. The latest collections are now available at Armani/Casa, Sloane Street and armani.com



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