In 2023 you’d have to be living under a rock if you weren’t familiar with Giorgio Armani. The influential Italian designer has created revolutionary looks like the famous deconstructed jacket, dressed hundreds of A-listers, and expanded his namesake brand into an empire. He’s also become a cultural icon, known for his minimalist personal style and improbable agelessness. Yet the 88-year-old Armani has also maintained a high level of privacy over the course of his career, giving few interviews and letting his work speak for him. That’s why it’s especially exciting that the inimitable designer is releasing Per Amore, a memoir about his unique, fascinating life.
As his intimate memoir retells, Armani was born in Piacenza, Italy, and grew up in the shadow of WWII. Still, he has fond memories of his youth. “I had a relatively peaceful childhood, despite the war. We didn’t have much to live on, but life was good,” he recalls. “I vividly remember wearing my Sunday best, the fine clothes that had to be treated with such care. This is, I believe, my first memory related to fashion.”
While he harbored an appreciation for clothes, Armani wouldn’t find the globally recognized brand we know today until he was in his forties. Before entering the business of fashion, he was almost a doctor, leaving school to enlist in the Italian army in the ’50s before becoming a window dresser at La Rinascente. From there, Armani landed his first hands-on job in fashion at Nino Cerruti, designing menswear and training his eye for the body-conscious cuts and sleek styles he would become known for. His innate talent for fashion gained him positive attention in the industry and plenty of freelance work. Finally, Armani had found his true calling.
“Fashion, for me, was something I came to later—yet a language with which I immediately felt at ease,” he says. Armani would go on to become one of the industry’s biggest players, a true hero of Italian luxury fashion and, eventually, the billionaire businessman he is today—but first, he had to meet Sergio Galeotti.
Galeotti, an architect, recognized Armani’s talent at Cerruti in the ’60s. He was instrumental in encouraging Armani to set out for himself, offering a business mindset to complement the designer’s creativity. The two founded Armani’s namesake brand in 1975 using funds from the sale of Armani’s Volkswagen Beetle—and the rest, as they say, is history. The business flourished amid the creative whirl of ’70s Milan, helping to usher in a golden age of Italian fashion.
“It was a moment of great vibrancy and industriousness: there were no limits, and that was incredibly motivating for all of us,” Armani remembers. “It was also a moment of powerful social change, something that was especially noticeable in Milan, and which I found enormously inspiring.”
Galeotti would remain Armani’s partner, in business and in life, until his sudden passing in 1985. By that time, the company he and Armani built had exceeded both men’s wildest dreams—and it would only continue to grow. There are Armani restaurants and hotels, as well as countless accessory lines, cosmetics, and perfumes. For Armani, however, it’s the clothes he remains most proud of. His love for fashion and the joy it can bring is woven into every page of Per Amore—and every day of his life. “My first and greatest inspiration is still observing people on the street and the desire to provide an elegant response to real needs. I have always kept up with social changes, and I continue to aspire to that,” he says. “Being in the newspapers is nice, but seeing your clothes on the street is priceless.”
Per Amore is available May 30, 2023 via Rizzoli.