Fashion Statement: Giorgio Armani

“I’ve always thought of the T-shirt as the Alpha and Omega of the fashion alphabet.” —Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani. On this day in 1982, Armani became the seventh designer in history to appear on the cover of Time (the last had been Rudi Gernreich in 1967 and the next would be Ralph Lauren in 1986), in support Read More »

Fashion Statement: Romeo Gigli

“Designing for a woman is always paying her homage, it’s the desire to continuously give her a present.” —Italian designer Romeo Gigli. On this day in fashion in 1991, a mysterious source presented select editors at Paris Fashion Week with a curious hand-delivery: a single white lily accompanied by a photocopy of an article about Romeo Gigli and his muse and backer, Carla Sozzani. It was the designer’s cryptic way of announcing his “divorce” from Sozzani, as well as from Read More »

Cinemode: Armani Makes His Move with American Gigolo

Talk about capturing a moment. By the time American Gigolo was released on this day in 1980, audiences had already been introduced to southern California style through films like Shampoo, Bullitt, California Suite, Welcome to L.A. and even guilty pleasures like Roller Boogie and Cleopatra Jones. But American Gigolo offered something different: A hot, young, well-dressed and cultured American male. OK, so the guy is also a prostitute, but when it’s Richard Gere in the role, moviegoers seem to have no problem overlooking and idealizing sticky moral issues.

The movie had another draw: A sexy, can’t-look-away costar—and I’m not talking about supermodel-turned-actress Lauren Hutton, who plays Gere’s love interest. The alluring scene-stealer is this case was new to La-La Land, but still received more screen time than anyone—er, anything—else in the film. Then-unknown Armani clothing, worn by Gere (and supposedly Hutton, too, though the brilliant-but-forgotten Bernandene Mann is credited as costumer) throughout the film, doesn’t just hang on the actors’ bodies like any old garment. On Gere’s broad shoulders and pert ‘tocks—both of which also get lots of screen time—Giorgio Armani’s silk, linen and Italian cotton suits seem to have a life of their own. Not to say that the clothes wear the man; in fact a more perfect model couldn’t be had than Gere. But the beautiful fabrics seem to Read More »

Emilio Pucci may have been Born to Aristocracy, but he was No Stranger to Getting his Hands Dirty

Some people have all the luck. Take a look at Signor Emilio Pucci. Born in 1914 to one of Florence’s oldest aristocratic families, the Italian fashion designer grew up with few cares, other than perfecting his moves on the ski slopes and tennis courts, that is. The gifted athlete did so well that he even skied for the Olympic team—twice. Later on, the now heavily decorated (naturally) Air Force captain perfected a fresh, new image: that of the quintessential European playboy and Renaissance man. He loved sports, fast cars and beautifully dressed women, and even created outfits for his lady friends whose wardrobes didn’t quite suit his tastes. But it’s tough to hate on Pucci, who died on this day in 1992. Sure, the handsome designer was handed just about every privilege a person could ask for—his haughty lineage even granted him the title of marquis at birth—but he was no stranger to getting his hands dirty. The same man that the New York Times described in 1959 as “tall, dark and with dashing distinction…resembling the hero of a romantic novel” later proudly claimed he was the first person in his family to work in 1,000 years, and told Time magazine, “Money is not the goal. If you do Read More »

Rediscovering Beauty: A Conversation with Designer Brunello Cucinelli

On this day in fashion, designer Brunello Cucinelli will be awarded an honorary degree in Philosophy and Human Ethics from the University of Perugia, one of the oldest universities in Europe. The honor is fitting, because for Cucinelli, no line exists between fashion design and philosophy. He is so dedicated to producing clothing in a way that improves and enhances humanity, that in 1985 he began restoring a crumbling 14th-century castle in Solomeo, the struggling Umbrian village where his wife grew up, as his company headquarters. In the 25 years since, he has not only grown his one-man cashmere company into a multi-million dollar business with employees and boutiques located around the world, but helped evolve Solomeo into a thriving, cultural community. His workers—Cucinelli employs most of the townspeople—seemingly live a utopian ideal. Every employee has a key to the factory, no one punches in or out, and 90-minute lunch breaks, almost entirely subsidized by the gourmet commissary, are mandatory. Most recently, Cucinelli completed construction on a soccer pitch and theater there.

The seasonal collections of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories are the realization of Cucinelli’s efforts: Extremely flattering, artisanal luxury products beautifully constructed entirely in Italy. Individual pieces are expensive, but one can take comfort in knowing that when they buy a Brunello Cucinelli, they are not just getting a beautiful garment but are subsidizing an Umbrian lifestyle. (Although much convincing is usually not too necessary.)

On October 30, Cucinelli was in town for a trunk show at Mario’s, an excellent designer clothing store in Seattle, and I managed to sit down with him for a few minutes Read More »

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