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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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He also provided much of the wardrobe for the hit television series Miami Vice (1984-89), 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.
During the 1980s,
wearing Armani became a symbol of success for many business professionals. They especially sought out the brand's "power suits." With demand high, Armani and Galeotti were able to grow the business, opening up Armani stores in Milan. Armani, however, suffered a great personal and professional loss in 1985 when he lost longtime friend and business partner Galeotti to AIDS. While some thought that the business might suffer after Galeotti's death, Armani showed the world that he was just as talented as an executive as he was as a designer.
Armani expanded his operations, opening his first restaurant in 1989. He also bought clothing manufacturer Simint S.p.A. and shares in other businesses. Not even legal troubles could slow down Armani's momentum. He received only a suspended sentence in 1996 after pleading guilty to bribing Italian tax officials in 1989 and 1990.
By the end of the 1990s, Armani had over 2,000 stores worldwide and annual sales of roughly $2 billion. His company continued to add to its product offerings, expanding into the home goods market and book publishing. In 2005, Armani debuted his first haute couture line. He launched this high-end venture because he liked the challenge. "Think how liberating it is for a designer to make one dress, perfectly, to satisfy only one customer," he told In Style magazine.
Hotels have become Armani's latest venture. In 2010, he opened his first hotel in Dubai, and another one is expected to open in Milan. It seems that Armani has nearly tapped into every available design opportunity at this point in his career.
Despite his great success, Armani remains modest about his efforts. "I like the idea of having built this beautiful empire, but I still like to think of myself as the stable boy," he told WWD. Several family members work for him in this vast enterprise. His sister Rosanna works at Armani as do two of his nieces, Silvana and Roberta.
With more than three decades in the business, Armani has enjoyed a longevity as a designer experienced by few others. Some compare him to such fashion greats as Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. In his 70s, Armani stands as one of fashion's most distinguished leaders. He seems "almost presidential—wise, serene and comfortable in his role now as the reigning eminence of Milan fashion," wrote a journalist for The New York Times.
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