The Iconic Italian Designer Shares His Wit And Wisdom

Giorgio Armani grew up in the small town of Piacenza, just outside Milan. A childhood spent playing in the war torn streets led to a near fatal accident, when an unexploded shell detonated, killing one of his friends and burning him severely. Following a month in hospital, during which time he temporarily lost his sight, the young Armani returned home with a new-found steely resolve: he was to be a survivor. After the war he studied medicine, until a visit to Milan's premiere department store, La Rinascente, with some pictures he'd taken of his younger sister modelling, led to a job as a window dresser and, later, buyer. His talent was spotted by Nino Cerruti's design studio, with which he trained for a career in fashion design. In 1974, after several years of freelance work, Armani set up his own label.

In the Eighties, his new approach - which involved deconstructing garments to make them more fluid and comfortable - took the world by storm, helped in part by the success of the Armani-dressed film, American Gigolo. Since then, the house has gone from strength to strength and today turns over €1,691 million annually. Armani has diversified into fragrances and interiors, and has built a reputation for working with Hollywood and the world of sport, in particular footballers. Giorgio Armani's new photographic book, Faces of Sport, will be available in Armani stores from May. All proceeds will go to the Special Olympics charity.

THE FIRST RULE OF DESIGN IS... there are no rules

BEFORE I FOUND FASHION... I trained to be a doctor

THE RED CARPET... can give rise to some horrific outfits

ELEGANCE IS... the quality I aspire to in my work

SAMUEL L JACKSON... is one of the most elegant men I know

MY FAVOURITE CAR IS... the VW Beetle I sold to set up my business

FOOTBALLERS ARE... the new gladiators

THE FILM I COULD WATCH OVER AND OVER IS... Hitchcock's Notorious - dark, moody and deeply romantic

NAVY BLUE... makes you look thinner

ITALIAN SECRETARIES... look great when they fix their hair with pencils

MY PERFECT HOLIDAY DESTINATION IS... anywhere in the Mediterranean

MY FAVOURITE TOY IS... the boat I bought last year

LUNCH IS... fresh pasta with tomatoes

NEVER... look like you're trying too hard

MY HOBBY IS... people watching

A GOOD IDEA IS... one which comes unbidden

TIME IS... a very precious thing and not to be wasted

THE FASHION PRESS... can be fickle. And wrong!

I'VE NEVER BELIEVED... the hype

THE SECRET OF SUCCESS... is self belief, hard work and luck

I STILL DON'T KNOW... how to reverse around corners

Enquiries: +44 (0) 20 7808 8100

By Peter Howarth

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