Armani and the emancipation of the modern woman
“Some think that fashion is frivolous, the whimsical nature of the creators’ inspiration, who are trapped in their own world, in their ivory tower. However I’ve always thought, that fashion is a reflection of our time, it has the ability to anticipate the future, the changing and the evolution of our society. In Giorgio Armani’s work, this ability to read the present combines with the power to synthesize a mark that leaves its sign with determination.”
After leaving behind a career in Medicine, and starting a job as a window dresser at La Rinascente in Milan, Giorgio Armani knew he wanted to make clothes for the rest of his life. In his early career, he worked for various Italian garment brands until meeting his business partner, Sergio Galeotti which helped him start with Giorgio Armani S.p.a. After the first couple shows shown in Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Armani caught the attention of Italian socialities and the high class for his elegant and somehow minimalist designs.
His first collections, before he even added a female line, were new but sense still traditional. Inspired by the work of his mother and grandmother, that were both dressmakers, Armani adopted the sartorial point of view but made it fashionable. He was making suits in neutral colors such as navy blue, grey, black, perfect colors for the streets of Milan, but was revolutionizing them by deconstructing the jackets, removing everything that was not necessary, rearranging buttons, and by employing new fabrics that embraced the bodies of those who wore his jackets, in order to give his suits bigger freedom that let his clients feel elegant but free. He gained public acclamation immediately and he then whished to take hic concept, and translate it to womenswear.
Womenswear was coming from the miniskirt revolution era, which was defined by the feminist movement from the 1960s, in which women protested in favor of new garments designed by women to be worn by women. Skirts and dresses were lifted a couple of inches and womenswear brands were focusing on creating clothes to highlight the femininity and sensuality of women. Of course, this trend was set in a historical context in which women were leaving their homes to go and study and work, but the role of women in the 70s, when Mr. Armani was designing his first womenswear collection was a bit different. Armani wanted to dress the new woman.
A woman that worked surrounded by men, and was not intimidated nor wanted to be considered as an object but rather considered as an equal. Armani literally took his menswear designs and by adjusting the silhouettes, he started dressing women in neutral colors, long straight skirts, suit jackets, and shirts which basically uniformed women to look just like men. He wanted to leave beside the sensual feel of women and give them control. His aim was to give women the same kind of freedom that miniskirts gave them back in the 60s but in a different way. Instead of being sexualized by men, they wanted to intimidate men. He successfully uniformed the new Italian woman, in an age in which a new Italy was being born, and we could say that his designs were well received by both the industry and his customers if still today you see women in the workplace wearing grey pantsuits.
Most probably, just like me, you met Armani’s work under the name of one of his many private labels like Armani exchange or Emporio Armani or even Armani jeans. I know that nowadays Armani is reduced to being popular by being just a name or a logo printed on top of a t-shirt that probably costs 50 euros, but back in the day Armani lead a revolution, he knew exactly how to read the room and give Italians what they weren’t even asking but deep down knew they needed. Giorgio Armani was one of the first representatives of the Made in Italy and most importantly one of the first to see the potential and detailed driven Italian sartorialism and made it big, called it fashion. Not in vain is Milano called the pret-a-porter capital of the world.