In a private ceremony last week, Giorgio Armani was presented with Italy’s highest civilian honour, the Knight Grand Cross. The 87-year-old Italian designer was awarded the honour specifically for his services to fashion and the arts, with the prize being a recognition of Armani’s almost 60-year career creating one of the most recognisable luxury brands in the world.
So, what are the five most essential lessons that we can learn from the King of Fashion?
1. Be true to yourself
Armani advises that striving to appease others is pointless, and that being true to one’s own philosophy and vision is far more vital.
On occasion, Armani has received criticism that his collections have become monotonous. However, Armani contends that he “does things his own way.”
He also says that it is important to “work hard and possibly harder, believe in your ideas, [then] work a bit harder, and you’ll get to the top. Even if you don’t get to the top, there’s nothing to worry about. Being true to oneself is the best reward.”
An excuse to do what we want? Thanks Giorgio.
2. It’s never too late
Giorgio Armani was in his 40s when he founded the brand in 1975. Prior to this, he spent a lot of time learning everything he could about textiles and learning how to sketch from scratch.
With no previous experience, Armani was hired as a window dresser and then as the buyer’s assistant at Milan’s La Rinascente department store in the late 1950s. In 1961, Nino Cerruti noticed him and recruited him as the designer for his new clothing brand, Hitman.
The ultimate lesson here is that whatever it may be, it’s never too late to start – you could end up being the owner of a multibillion-dollar luxury fashion brand and one of the most influential designers of the modern era.
3. Invest in timeless, comfortable fashion
“The decline of the fashion system as we knew it began when luxury adopted fast fashion methods” Armani warns. He believes that “luxury cannot and must not be rapid,” due to not only the current climate crisis but the lack of ethics involved in fast-fashion production.
Additionally, Armani’s brand embraces minimalism over maximalism as the basis for their style, trusting the idea “that less is better and that timeless elegance is a form of gentle radicalism.”
King Giorgio cemented his position in fashion history by adhering to a single principle for more than 40 years: “The law of luxury is not to add, but to take away.”
4. You get stronger as a result of adversity
Giorgio Armani lived during the Second World War and he remembers that “there was no money and nothing to eat.” His father was also imprisoned for a period on allegations of working for the fascist state.
Worst of all was his discovery of an unexploded shell when he was nine years old. The gunpowder ignited, and Giorgio was completely scorched. He was at risk of losing his eyesight and had to lay in a shady room with both eyes closed for 20 days. Surprisingly, he lived, but he claims his eyes “were never as good again.”
In 1980, Sergio Galeotti, his business and personal partner, died of AIDS, five years after he founded his company, and it was a devastating blow to the designer. Many of Armani’s associates departed the firm as a result, believing he couldn’t produce on his own.
Astonishingly, none of these difficulties deterred Armani’s rise to prominence.
5. The future of fashion is in the metaverse
Although Giorgio Armani believes that “fashion cannot survive long in an exclusively virtual form” this does not mean he has not pioneered the digital fashion space.
Armani broadcast his Armani Privé Spring/Summer 2007 collection live on the Internet. The show was broadcast via MSN and Cingular cellular phones. Talk about predicting the future.
In addition to this, Giorgio Armani decided to disinvite the guests to his womenswear show back in February 2020 in light of the pandemic. Taking it online, the Armani show was the very first Covid-enforced digital presentation of a lot. During that time much has changed, but one thing noted in that review remains as true as ever: “Digital media has become a key transmitter of fashion, but nothing really compares to being there.”
Even at the British Fashion Awards this year, the British Fashion Council launched a Metaverse Design Award.
With fashion returning to physical shows, Giorgio Armani continues to dominate the industry, so we probably should take a leaf out of his book.
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