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.
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.
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.
"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
"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
"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