If we are going to talk icons, then we have to talk Giorgio Armani. He is a legend. He has created the most sublime clothes since the beginning of time, yeah, yeah. Androgynous, effortless, tomboy, man, woman, understated, exquisite. Need we go on? No, let’s leave it to the man to explain his new, aptly named Emporio Armani Icon Collection, which references the mid-1990s. Oh yes, what an era.
Dear Mr Armani, please share with us what inspired you to redevelop and explore the archival pieces and then give birth to the Icon Collection?
“Because of my design aesthetic I have always been inclined to produce timeless pieces that really sit outside temporary trends. It is also interesting to observe how certain designs recur in new guises and evolve over time. So I decided to think about what key pieces I have developed for Emporio Armani and to explore how I could reimagine them as a group of designs with a contemporary spirit for today, while paying homage to the tradition that they represent.”
We love this exploration, how do you always manage to make your design so utterly timeless?
“The simple answer is that I never seek to be of the moment. Instead, I aim to create clothes and accessories that are elegant, sophisticated and stylish. If they become fashionable, then that is because people like to wear them and make them part of the cultural conversation – as with the women’s suits I developed in the 1980s, for example. But my intention is not to play the fashion game. I just wish to make people look and feel great in a way that has more of an eternal spirit. So, for the Emporio Armani Icon Collection, I looked at classic pullovers, fluid trouser suits and flowing trousers in a simple palette of black and grey-blue for her, and blousons, single- and double-breasted jackets, and trousers with darts in black, white and blue for him. Timeless pieces, with timeless appeal.”
We love timeless appeal, as we’ve just come out of so many decades of excess. So is this also part of your way of exploring sustainability?
“Absolutely. Sustainability is a topic of great and increasing concern to all of us, and I am doing what I can to look at elements within my business to reduce the environmental impact of what we do. That means examining the supply chain and exploring new ecofriendly materials, as well as developing sustainable retail architecture. We have, for example, recently opened the first two of a series of Armani Green Outlets, designed and built with materials derived from pre- and post-consumer recycling. But beyond all of this very necessary work, there is also the consideration that if you adopt a mindful approach to creating fashion, with products designed to last, instead of contributing to the production of throwaway pieces, then you are helping to foster a much more sustainable attitude to design and production, and, moreover, helping consumers behave in a more sustainable way. Wearing your clothes for longer is one way to really help the environment, and you are more likely to do this if they are made to good standards of quality, so they last, and are designed to not date quickly in terms of aesthetics.”
Mindful is everything. We have always loved your Emporio Armani eagle – it can fly higher than any other bird, so we can relate. What does it symbolise for you now?
“The symbol of the eagle was created in a stroke of inspiration. My business partner Sergio Galeotti called me in 1981, saying we urgently needed to figure out a logo for this new line. So, while holding the phone in one hand and a pen in the other, I drew an eagle, which I felt symbolised the unattainable. That logo was embraced by the younger generation. Wanting to belong is a powerful feeling, and my jeans with the eagle logo soon became a symbol of belonging, and it was the same for my bomber jackets with the eagle emblazoned on the back. Wearing these clothes meant being part of a group, being faithful and true to others, as well as to yourself.
“Today, the eagle still holds the same sort of meaning for me as it did back then. It is a powerful bird and, in this power, is a sense of reaching for new heights. Over the years, Emporio Armani has become my favourite testing ground for my designs, the collection through which I experiment the most to achieve new outcomes. There is something youthful about this attitude, and the collection has always had a young feel, but it’s not just for 20-year-olds. Instead, it’s for those who, with taste and sophistication, want to be stylish at every age. The eagle is a symbol of this attitude, and of the idea of being part of a confident group that shares an urban, dynamic spirit.”
by Alison Veness
See the full story photographed by Roger Deckker and styled by Peter Simon Phillips in the new issue of 10 Magazine Australia, out now.