I always dreamed of meeting Mr. Armani.
I had seen him once or twice backstage and always really appreciated how kind he seemed. For me, Giorgio Armani represents the amazing, modern elegance of Italians. He’s immensely talented – a man who has revolutionized fashion, blurring all the lines between masculine and feminine, and he continues to work every single day with intense passion and discipline.
My admiration for him as a person is also tied to my great respect for him as a visionary. Armani didn’t stop with clothing. Very early, long before the word “lifestyle” was on everyone’s lips, he had a desire to make his vision extend beyond clothing. I am lucky to be able to write to you from his hotel in Milan (I’ll tell you more about the hotel in an upcoming post) and it’s crazy to see how far he’s taken the attention to detail.
So I am writing you from Milan, where I’ve come to dive into the world of Armani for a day. The show was this morning. And with Armani, everything is different.
First of all, in Milan, the most established fashion houses present their shows in their own spaces. They all have an area set aside for shows. At the “Teatro” Armani, there’s no standing – you get deep, comfortable seats. There’s no hysteria. There is a sense of relaxed mastery. Backstage, Mr. Armani is keeping busy. Like many creative geniuses, he’s reduced his style to a bare minimum. Most of the time, he wears a black tee-shirt which contrasts with his white hair. He keeps busy, speaks in Italian. Around him, he’s got a team who adores him and has been following him forever. Everyone whispers to me: Mr. Armani, he’s a total sweetheart.
At the makeup counters, there’s another thing that’s a bit unusual: the color palette for the next collection is created right then and there to match the collection of the day. I’ve talked to you about Armani makeup before, it’s amazing all the way down to the packaging – and that’s one of the secrets. The blends are created right there for the show, and that’s what all the colored vials you see in the photos are for.
Then the show begins, and once again, it’s unique. There are no star models, no Insta-pit, no blaring music. Everything is done to give attention to the clothes. At my first Armani shows, I didn’t really get it. Why doesn’t this powerful fashion house pay for the latest fashion girl? And then I understood that it was to leave room for the clothes. There’s a kind of self confidence that emanates from everything. You are transported into a certain world, an aesthetic.
The end of the show, when Mr. Armani comes out, is always my favorite moment. I don’t know why, but to me it’s like seeing Coco Chanel or Hubert de Givenchy. A true legend. After that, someone came to get me, and it was my turn.
Another thing I love about Giorgio Armani is listening to him speak. He has incredible honesty and candor, and in fashion that’s so refreshing. And most of all, he’s brilliant. One day I’ll do a podcast with him, now that we’re friends, I’m sure he’ll say yes ;)
We said hi to each other, sat down in our chairs backstage, and he was very clear with Erik and me from the beginning: this is my favorite side, take photos head on, I like them to be taken in front of a black background. He’s perfectly clear with himself and how he wants to be seen. The kind of thing I should take notes on… Once we were comfortable, he looked at me with his light blue eyes, and smiled.
And there it was!!! That sweetness I’d always liked about him, his humility and incredible elegance, that same elegance which I talk about in my book, the elegance of the greatest –the ones who have nothing to prove and treat everyone with the same warmth and respect. We started speaking in French. Yes, because on top of it all, he speaks impeccable French.
Garance: Thank you for meeting with me and bravo for the show. Also, congratulations on the Oscars!
Armani: It wasn’t too bad (smile)…
Garance: Not bad at all, especially since you dressed Leonardo Di Caprio and Cate Blanchett. And I also loved the actress Charlotte Rampling, I thought her dress was sublime. The thing I love is that you’ve always dressed women, all women, of every age. How do you dress someone like Charlotte? What did she inspire in you?
Armani: To start, you have to pull together a certain number of pieces so you can really imagine them on the woman in question. I don’t leave them total freedom of choice… Because it happens a lot…there are people who don’t have the knack for understanding what suits them and what doesn’t work. It’s not a given for everyone. You need someone to look at your face, your body, and put things together to make it all balanced, to make it something that’s very acceptable.
Garance: You very much created a brand that proposed an entire lifestyle, long before everyone else was doing it… How did it come to you? Do you think fashion goes beyond clothing?
Armani: I imagine a fashion world that takes into consideration how to dress, how to do a hotel room, how to choose one city over another for vacation… It’s a whole ensemble: there is no fashion without the hotel, there is no hotel without the city…
Garance: It’s like an art of living, really…
Armani: I can’t bring myself to say “art of living,” but it’s a choice, which is very important. You can make choices in life: many very different choices…but the difficult thing is making a choice for yourself. Making a choice that fits who you are.
Garance: Is there anything you’d like to add to your creative repertoire?
Armani: I have almost everything if you look… Ah yes, coming up with an itinerary wouldn’t be bad. I tried doing it when I was young, choosing Africa rather than the North. I think suggesting a way of seeing the world to people, that’s an art…
Garance: You’ve really revolutionized fashion. And actually I think that today you’re creating another revolution by staying yourself in the middle of the crazy spectacle that Fashion Week has become.
Armani: But at the same time, I try to stay up with the times… If you fall behind, it won’t work. That’s kind of the trick to my work, the risk in my work, rather…Being yourself, but at the same time, expanding your own mind, your own image.
Garance: You do it very well. And I have another question: my brand is currently developing, and like yours, it carries my own name. Do you ever feel like your name no longer belongs to you? Do you have any advice for me in that regard?
Armani: I kind of see my name from afar, now. It’s nice on the one hand, because it leaves me with a bit more freedom. But at the same time, I have my own name in my hands. It’s my life, it’s me. If I leave behind my name, I leave myself behind. That’s no good.
Garance: And what do your friends call you? Giorgio?
Armani: There are still people who, even after 30 years, still call me Signore Armani, and they really are friends… They’re afraid to call me Giorgio. I think that’s ridiculous.
Garance: Well thank you so much. This has really been a pleasure, I’m truly honored. I also wanted to ask you your advice on how to stay so beautiful? But I was afraid to ask.
Armani: It’s not me, it’s a doppelgänger!
So there you go! I left feeling like I had wings, fully aware of the amazing opportunity I’d been given. Obviously, like always, I forgot to take a selfie with him. Next time, Mr. Armani!
Translated by Andrea Perdue