Italian designer Giorgio Armani boasts an illustrious career spanning over 35 years in the fashion industry. Since launching his namesake label in 1975, he has overseen the growth of his brand from a signature menswear line to luxury fashion empire including Giorgio Armani Privé and Emporio Armani apparel lines alongside accessories, footwear, cosmetics and home decor.
Armani is the sole shareholder of Giorgio Armani S.p.A, making it one of the few leading Italian brands to remain independent from international investment vehicles, overseeing a retail distribution chain of over 500 standalone stores around the world. The celebrated designer has been awarded a slew of industry accolades throughout his career, including the Award for Best International Designer, Lifetime Achievement Award for menswear and for art and fashion from the CFDA and a Rodeo Drive “Walk of Style” Award.
Prior to his career in design, Mr Armani initially pursued a career in medicine, undertaking a graduate degree within the department of medicine at the University of Milan, leaving in 1953, before completing his degree, to join the Italian army. Placed in an infirmary in Verona, Armani began to look for a different career path and soon after secured a position as a window dresser for La Rinascente, a prominent department store in Milan. The budding designer went on to serve as a sales associate within the menswear department and in the early 1960s secured a menswear design role at Nino Cerruti.
In the late ‘60s Armani first met Sergio Galeotti, who encouraged the young creative to start his own design office in Milan in 1973. The duo formed Giorgio Armani S.p.A. and in 1975 presented an inaugural menswear and womenswear collection. The designer quickly garnered industry attention, in particular for his deconstructed suit jackets, and by 1976 was stocked in Barneys New York, with a fragrance license signed in 1980 and affordable diffusion lines launched in 1981. The designer released his first home decor range in 1989 and in 2004 signed a partnership with Dubai-based Emaar Properties PJSC to build a series of Armani branded hotels and resorts worldwide.
The designer has received several commendations from the Italian government in recognition of his long service in promoting Italian craftsmanship, including the title of Commendatore dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica, and Grand’Ufficiale dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica. Armani was also awarded the French Legion d'Honneur in 2008 and holds honorary doctorates and degrees from the Royal College of Art and Central Saint Martins in London and the Accademia di Brera in Milan.
Mr Armani has also created his own catwalk presentation space, the Teatro Armani, and in 2013, which opened its doors to enable emerging designers such as Stella Jean and Andrea Pompilio to showcase their collections during Milan Fashion Week.
In 2016, with question marks hanging over the designer's succession planning, Armani announced formation of a foundation to ensure the stability of company leadership and assets in the future.