Postcards from Beijing

Hollywood's favorite fashion icon lands in China's capital for a runway extravaganza. MC's Ying Chu goes along for the ride.

models
Hollywood's favorite fashion icon lands in China's capital for a runway extravaganza. MC's Ying Chu goes along for the ride.
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Niu Daqing
Armani Dynasty

Having conquered Hollywood fashion in film (American Gigolo) and on the red carpet (from bedazzled Lady Gaga to minimal Cate Blanchett), Giorgio Armani is going East. "I've always loved China — its sophistication, its decoration," proclaims the designer, whose first mainland shop opened in Beijing in 1998.

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Niu Daqing
Armani Dynasty
Invitations to the show.
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Niu Daqing
Armani Dynasty

On his latest trip, he turned an old water tanker in Beijing's 798 Art District into a stage for "One Night Only," a monumental show joining his Giorgio Armani, Emporio Armani, and Armani Privé (couture) collections under one roof. His audience of 1,000 included longtime admirer Tina Turner and Armani-clad Asian stars like Fan Bingbing.

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Niu Daqing
Armani Dynasty
The show's theatrical entrance.
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Niu Daqing
Armani Dynasty

What could top such an epic event? His investment in the future: Armani has spearheaded a fashion program at the Academy of Arts & Design at Tsinghua University, forging a cultural exchange between East and West. Already, two design hopefuls have been awarded internships in Milan next summer. "Personally, I hope to find someone who can give me a new perspective. That's how we all learn," says Armani.

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Niu Daqing
Armani Dynasty
Backstage brights.
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Courtesy of Designer
Armani Dynasty
Clutch $2,580, Giorgio Armani; armani.com for stores.
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Niu Daqing
Armani Dynasty
Some final preshow preening.
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Courtesy of Designer
Armani Dynasty

"I never sacrifice individuality for trend. I don't ignore trends, but my point is to design clothes for people to buy in shops, not just for shows and photo shoots. Eighty percent of designer collections aren't even produced." — Giorgio Armani

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Niu Daqing
Armani Dynasty
The Great Wall aglow at night.
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Niu Daqing
Armani Dynasty

"Chinese customers want a little more flash than Europeans. But women's style is constantly becoming more universal. And for these pieces, I went more subtle with structure." — Armani

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Niu Daqing
Armani Dynasty
The city's vibrant markets.
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Courtesy of Designer
Armani Dynasty
Shoes $975, Emporio Armani; armani.com for stores.
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Courtesy of Company
Armani Dynasty

"When I started my career in the '70s, it wasn't easy to travel to China. I learned about it through books and films like Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor." — Armani

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Niu Daqing
Armani Dynasty
Armani with actress Shu Qi.
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Courtesy of Designer
Armani Dynasty
Purple & red bracelets $295 each, multicolor bracelet $375, Emporio Armani; armani.com for stores.
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