Giorgio Armani: Proportions—it's easy to get them wrong by getting carried away with current trends. There is such a thing as a bag being too big or too small regardless of its shape, and the effect [in relation to your outfit] can at times be ridiculous. The same thing applies to shoes. Extremely high heels are mostly advised for tall women. Also, it's not a good idea to match your shoes with a bag too stringently. Go for subtle similarity.
NG: If you were to pare down a woman's arsenal of accessories to just a few shoes and bags, what would the must-haves be?
GA: A sporty citywear style, like moccasins or men's lace-ups and a shoulder bag. For the evening, a little more pizzazz with heels and a black clutch with golden or crystal accents. For the summer, light-weight sandals and a colorful shopper bag. In theory, each would satisfy every need.
GA: American style tends to be more of a dress code. I have always admired the practical intelligence that it expresses, like that of commuting to the workplace wearing comfortable sneakers, then slipping on a pair of elegant heels once you've arrived. The dress codes in Italy are much more confusing and often mistake carelessness for a sense of freedom.
NG: After nearly 40 years designing, why do you think your designs are still so relevant?
GA: When I started Giorgio Armani in the mid-'70s, I realized that women needed a way to dress that was equivalent to that of men—something that would give them dignity, an attitude that would help them handle their work life. It wasn't to show off; it was a style that was basic, simple, rigorous—not the exclusive prerogative of a successful manager, but rather of anyone who wanted to approach a career seriously.