Giorgio Armani was born in Piacenza, Italy, in 1934. In his youth, he enrolled at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Piacenza to study medicine. After three years, he decided to leave university to join the military. He proceeded to work as a buyer in Milan's department store La Rinascente.
In 1964, Giorgio Armani started working at the Italian design house Nino Cerruti, where he designed for the menswear line Cerruti Hitman. After leaving the company in the early '70s, he started doing freelance projects for various fashion companies and decided to open his namesake label.
In 1973, Giorgio Armani and his business partner Sergio Galeotti opened their first store on Corso Venezia in Milan (to finance the store, Armani sold his Volkswagen car). Two years later founded the company with a starting capital of $10,000. He continued to freelance for Italian brands such as Ermenegildo Zegna, Ungaro, and Loewe. For his own collections, Armani developed an image that would soon become his trademark: A suit jacket with a free silhouette and straight-cut trousers.
In 1976, Armani's suits attracted the attention of department store Barneys owner Fred Pressman. Armani and Galeotti proposed $10,000 for the exclusive rights to promote the brand in New York, which resulted similar requests from other American department stores including Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's. Armani's popularity reached a global audience when Richard Gere's character in the film American Gigolo wore a Giorgio Armani suit with white shirt and a pair of sleek sunglasses in tow.
In 1981, Giorgio Armani launched the Armani Jeans line, Armani Junior and Emporio Armani. A high demand and equally high prices of the items from these collections caused many cases of counterfeit goods, which resulted in a canceled show in Milan in 1982. In the same year he became the second designer (after Christian Dior) in history to be featured on the cover of Time magazine. In 1983, Giorgio Armani received recognition from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in the category of "Best International Designer." In 1987, he won the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award from CFDA.
In 1989, Armani rejected an offer to take the place of creative director of French fashion house Lanvin, and in 2000 he celebrated the 25th anniversary of his brand with a large-scale retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. In the same year he opened Armani Megastore in Milan, where in addition to clothes, footwear, accessories and cosmetics, the flagship also sold flowers, candy and books. The store is also home to a cafe, Nobu sushi bar, and Sony electronics boutique and play center. In 2005, Armani began working on his couture line, Armani Privé, and in 2010 he opened the first Armani Hotel in Dubai located in Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest structure.
Currently, Giorgio Armani continues to work on collections for his many lines. He holds numerous awards and titles, among them—two Bambi awards, an induction to the Walk of Style in California, Gentlemen's Quarterly Man Of The Year, a Promoted Officer of the Legion of Honour, and Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.
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