2021 is a landmark year for Giorgio Armani, a man so singularly influential, his surname is now synonymous with the entirety of Italian fashion. It not only marks his return to the runway after a long hiatus (in early 2020, he was one of the first brands to cancel a runway show due to the risk of Covid), but the 40th anniversary of his Emporio Armani label. Launched in 1981, the Emporio line aimed to offer the high-octane, luxury Italian glamour Armani had crafted with his namesake label to a wider audience. The brand adopted innovative marketing techniques for the time, creating an in-house magazine and experimenting with TV and billboard marketing in new and engaging ways. This was shortly after America had caught Armani fever thanks the costumes Giorgio designed for Richard Gere in American Gigolo. With Emporio, the brand’s global domination was sealed.
So, how does one celebrate such a milestone? For Armani, the secret sauce to their continued success has been consistency. And so the spring summer ’22 runway presentation took place where it always does: at Armani’s cascading Milan HQ on Via Bergognone. Armani is still a champion for safe Covid procedures, so split the runway presentation across two separate appointments, enforcing mask-wearing and social distancing within the venue. This is, after all, the man who transformed the Armani factories into production lines for medical workers uniforms during the pandemic—looking out for the greater health of the Italian population is in his DNA.
As for the collection itself, it was a celebration of the codes of Emporio Armani: easy Italian elegance with a youthful twist. Models took to the runway in playful disco-style lamè metallic jumpsuits in turquoise and pink; wore elegant silk shirting and pajama-style sets with abstract graphic prints reminiscent of a painter’s brushstrokes; and paired voluminous bubble-style skirts with skimpy embroidered camisoles. Pieces were accessoried with oversized rope belts and necklaces, simple leather flats, and chunky turquoise jewllery. The collection’s colour palette was particularly fresh: watermelon pinks, lilacs, sky blues, and seafoam green, and the closing looks—a trio of flirty contrasting pailette skirt-and-shirt combinations finished in blocked primary colours—solidified that Emporio is a brand deeply in tune with the whims of the younger generation.
As Mr. Armani came out and took his bow, it was difficult not to feel a little emotional. He is, after all, one of the great living legends of the international fashion circuit—a man who has single-handedly tranformed the way we think about ‘power dressing’, menswear, and what it means to be an Italian fashion house. Armani has remained resolutely independent and Italian owned, diversifying its offering to create an empire that spans hotels, restaurants, books, and cafès, alongside the usual suspects of beauty, fragrance, and intimates. Here’s to another 40 years of Emporio. Viva Armani.