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Italian executive Giorgio Armani is an iconic clothing designer best known in America for his popular men's suits.
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Designer. Born on July 11, 1934, in Piacenza, Italy. With his body-conscious yet understated clothing, Giorgio Armani has become one of the most popular names in fashion. He first launched his business empire in the mid-1970s, and it has grown substantially over the years. The Armani brand now includes makeup, housewares, books, and hotels.
The son of a shipping manager, Armani grew up in a small town outside of Milan. It was a difficult time in Italian history. Giorgio and his two siblings—older brother Sergio and younger sister Rosanna—experienced the hardships of World War II firsthand. Some of his friends were killed during Allied bombings. "We were poor and life was tough," he explained to Harper's Bazaar. "The cinema in Milan was a refuge—a palace of dreams—and the movie stars seemed so glamorous. I fell in love with the idealized beauty of Hollywood stars."
At an early age, Armani developed an interest in anatomy, making "dolls out of mud with a coffee bean hidden inside," explained to the Guardian newspaper. His fascination with the human form led to two years of medical study at the University of Piacenza. Taking a break from school, Armani had to complete his required military service. He soon got his first taste of fashion. "I was doing my military service and I had 20 days off on vacation in Milan," he explained to Time magazine. Through a friend, he got a job at a department store. "I started assisting the photographer, designing the windows and things."
After completing his military service, Armani dropped out of university and went to work at La Rinascente, a famous Milan department store. He then joined the staff of Nino Cerruti as a designer. With the encouragement of his friend Sergio Galeotti, Armani started to do freelance design work for other companies as well.
Armani and Galeotti became business partners, founding Giorgio Armani S.p.A. in July 1975. The company's first collection—a men's clothing line—debuted that year. Armani launched a women's collection the following year, which received a warm reception. His clothes were revolutionary at the time, introducing a more natural fit and using a subtle color palette. "My vision was clear: I believed in getting rid of the artifice of clothing. I believed in neutral colors," he later told WWD.
While his designs were popular in Europe, Armani didn't make a big splash in America until 1980. His clothes were worn by actor Richard Gere in the film American Gigolo, which helped generate a lot of interest in Armani. He also provided much of the wardrobe for the hit television series Miami Vice, starring Don Johnson. Soon many top Hollywood stars started wearing Armani on the red carpet, including Michelle Pfeiffer, Jodie Foster, and John Travolta among others.
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