The perpetually tanned Italian designer turns 83 today — and to celebrate his career, Men’s Style looks back on how Armani has transformed Hollywood.
In the beginning
Armani’s four-decade path towards an $8 billion personal fortune and a well-earned reputation as the ’King of the Blazer’ began in 1975, when he teamed up with Sergio Galeotti to produce his first menswear collection. More than 40 years later, he’s still making the most sought-after formalwear among Hollywood’s A-listers. “I continue to experiment and research better manufacturing ways to achieve the perfect suit,” he said. “The most important element is that the wearer feels confident and comfortable.”
Soft, flowing silhouettes, monochrome colours, and top-drawer fabrics are the style signatures that explain why Armani has become such a timelessly popular pioneer of red-carpet fashion. The tailored jackets he provided to Richard Gere in 1980’s American Gigolo revolutionised business wear by axing square, puffy shoulders in favour of a more elegant, casual cut (totally distracting from the fact Gere’s character was a drug-addled sex worker). Armani brought that easy elegance straight from Milan to Los Angeles.
Hollywood’s most wanted
American Gigolo established Armani’s reputation in Hollywood as the master of sex appeal, and the Rodeo Drive boutique he opened in 1988 cemented his popularity among Hollywood’s elite — both male and female — in an era before personal stylists. Appearing on A-listers on screen was also key to Armani’s image — the immaculately tailored Rico Tubbs in Miami Vice, the polished Eric Clapton, and the vintage cool of the Sean Connery and co. in the Untouchables a few famous examples from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s .
That retro power dressing was revived in 2013’s Wolf of Wall Street with Leonardo DiCaprio’s classic pinstripes, not to mention Christian Bale’s bespoke style as Bruce Wayne in the Dark Knight Rises. George Clooney — who was married in Armani in 2014 — and David Beckham are other uber-stylish Armani disciples. The tally of films Armani’s garb has appeared in? 200-plus. His impact on Tinseltown’s fashion over four decades? Immeasurable.