Armani Menswear, American Gigolo, Richard Gere

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio was born in Italy in 1934. He studied medicine in Milan before joining the army, in which he served for two years. He then became a window dresser and sales clerk at La Rinascente department store in 1957.

In the mid 60s, he moved to the Nino Cerruti company where he started to design menswear. He also did freelance design for many different companies. In 1973, he opened a design office, continuing to collaborate with a variety of brands, and the international press noted his importance in the industry. This led him to starting his own label in 1975 with his partner Sergio Galeotti.

He expanded to the United States in 1979 and became one of the leading names in fashion internationally in the 80s. New lines were added such as Emporio Armani and Armani Jeans. He utilized new advertising techniques such as enormous street ads, a dedicated brand magazine and television commercials. 

Giorgio felt a relationship with cinema was essential, so he designed the costumes for Richard Gere’s character in the 1980 film American Gigolo. This helped publicize his talents further. The film amounted to one of the best advertisements for a fashion brand ever!

He went on to design (in conjunction with the costume designer) for many more films thereafter including The Untouchables (1987), The Bodyguard (1992), The Dark Knight (2008) and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013).

He commented: “After American Gigolo, I realized the powerful impact that cinema could have on the collective imagination, and the desire to identify with a character’s style. From there came a structured strategy with commercial goals.”

In 1988, Armani began publication of The Emporio Armani magazine. This was a concept magazine illustrating values and atmospheres of the brand, replacing the collection catalogue and showing garments in context alongside high quality editorial content. It came to an end in 1997. You can flick through our 1993 copy on Instagram through this link:

We also featured a special segment of the issue on TikTok:

In 1991, A/X Armani Exchange attempted to break into the mass-market with lower priced relaxed clothes and provocative ad campaigns. 

Before Armani, fashion was not a key element of awards season and most celebrities were dressed by costume designers or designers synonomous with Hollywood but who weren’t selling in regular stores, such as Bob Mackie. In failing that, and especially in the New Hollywood era, many celebs simply bought their clothes off the rack at the mall. With his connections to Hollywood, Armani became the go-to designer for red carpets in the 90s. He wanted to create a more relaxed red carpet that showcased the personalities of the actors during their big moment. We all remember Julia Roberts in her grey Armani men’s suit when she won a Golden Globe in 1990.

Women’s Wear Daily referred to the Academy Awards as the ‘Armani Awards’ around this time. This opened a new chapter for brand influence in Hollywood, which has grown exceptionally in the 30 years since. Giorgio noted that “the relationship between fashion and entertainment is now closer than ever, and brands promote primarily via the personalities wearing them in the public arena.”

After the death of model Ana Carolina Reston from anorexia, he implemented a ban on hiring models with a BMI under 18. He was the first designer to implement such restrictions in an attempt to curb eating disorders in models. 

He was also the first designer to broadcast a haute couture runway show live on the internet in 2007. 

He notably designed Lady Gaga’s iconic Grammys outfit in 2010 and her stage costumes for the Monster Ball and Born This Way tours. 

Today, his business enterprise has amassed him a wealth of over $8 Billion.

As an archetypal 80s brand, we have chosen pictures below of some of his 80s menswear designs. Most of the images appeared in  Rizzoli’s 1990 coffee-table book ‘Giorgio Armani: Images Of Man’ chronicling the brand’s menswear collections from the 1975-1990 period. 

We are lucky to have a copy of the Guggenheim Museum's Armani book from their 2001 exhibit. Flick through it with us in this video:

We also want to share some of the Armani suits we have in our rentals collection. We have some beautiful pieces available to productions!

See more details of these on Instagram:

See what vintage Armani we currently have for sale in the shop here: 

Lastly, please check out our range of vintage 80s menswear here!

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