The Moment: My head is still spinning.
When Giorgio Armani celebrates a milestone, like the 40th anniversary of his company on Thursday night, the celebrities he has dressed on the red carpet for decades are bound to come to celebrate him. And though a big turnout was expected for the event, it’s hard to describe just how star-struck was the atmosphere of the opening of his new museum, Armani Silos, and a fashion show of his recent Privé couture collections at his headquarters in Milan. In the span of an hour came Cate Blanchett, Leonardo DiCaprio, Hilary Swank, Janet Jackson, Glenn Close, and was I dreaming, or was that a drive-by by the cutie-patootie prime minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi?
Strange, isn’t it, when these stars come running to reporters, instead of running from them, just to praise Armani? Here was Sophia Loren, and the first word out of her mouth to anyone who asked, was “Ooooh, ell-eh-gance!” And then Tina Turner, who took a deep breath when asked, said, “Ele-gance!”
They came to see Armani’s museum, overflowing with elegance, and then they stepped across the street to Armani’s theater, which had been transformed for a special runway show of the designer’s Privé couture collections. Something like 160 looks chosen from 10 different collections came down his runway during a show that lasted more than 35 minutes, and hardly anyone looked bored. Turner was the biggest supporter in the house, applauding the more extravagant looks, the classically elegant (is there a better word?) sequined confections, and the big puffballs of tulle and feathers, too, that showed Armani at his wildest. As the designer said earlier in the day that he hoped it would, the runway showed his work is about more than one look.
Why It’s a Wow: Don’t ask me. Ask some of Armani’s customers, who are more than willing to put in a few words:
Cate Blanchett: “With my very first paycheck, I bought an Armani suit. I’ve got a herringbone suit that I’ve worn for about 10 years. It’s my onesie. I’ve always liked that cross between the masculine and the feminine, so I’ve always liked a good suit. He’s so absorbed in the universe of making and creating beautiful things and spaces. But I’ve had a very creative relationship with him, in theater, in film, and obviously on the red carpet. The very first time we met was after a show, it might have been the first Privé show. I had a fitting with him, and sweating in the backs of my knees, because I was meeting the man, and he was down attending to every single stitch in the hem himself. He is all over every single aspect of everything Armani, and I think that’s why the house maintains its integrity.”
Lauren Hutton: “I’ve known him for 38 years, since American Gigolo. I remember from the beginning, for him to make beige, I would look at it and there would be eight different colors of threads he used to make a simple light brown. From the beginning, that was Giorgio. I had never seen anything like that, ever. I did my very first fashion show for him – photography models would never be caught dead doing a fashion show then – but I came to Milan just for him. His heart is as great as his art.”
Chris Pine: “It’s simplicity, attention to detail. I tend to like simpler things in an old world, old school, old Hollywood vibe. Armani fits that bill to a T.”
Glenn Close: “He’s shy. He honestly doesn’t speak English. Most times I’ve sat with him, we try to get along in French, but most times he incites loyalty. The team I still work with are many of the same people I worked with 30 years ago. I have my first double breasted blazer I bought when Armani was a little boutique on Madison Avenue, when I couldn’t afford all this, and I still have it and it’s still gorgeous. It has that fabulous, square shoulder. I’ve always loved that Armani shoulder. My determination is to stay in shape so I can keep wearing them until I die.”
Hilary Swank: “His designs are timeless, chic, and feminine. They encapsulate everything a woman wants.”
Tina Turner: “I buy his clothes, so whenever I want to be elegant, I go to his section in my closet and I can feel really good about myself. If I could have every dress in my size, that would be a dream come true.”