Designer Giorgio Armani was born on July 11, 1934, in Piacenza, Italy. With his body-conscious yet understated clothing, Giorgio Armani has become one of the most popular names in fashion. He first launched his business empire in the mid-1970s, and it has grown substantially over the years. The Armani brand now includes makeup, housewares, books and hotels.
At an early age, Armani developed an interest in anatomy, making "dolls out of mud with a coffee bean hidden inside," explained to the Guardian newspaper. His fascination with the human form led to two years of medical study at the University of Piacenza. Taking a break from school, Armani had to complete his required military service. He soon got his first taste of fashion. "I was doing my military service and I had 20 days off on vacation in Milan," he explained to Time magazine. Through a friend, he got a job at a department store. "I started assisting the photographer, designing the windows and things."
After completing his military service, Armani dropped out of university and went to work at La Rinascente, a famous Milan department store. He then joined the staff of Nino Cerruti as a designer. With the encouragement of his friend Sergio Galeotti, Armani started to do freelance design work for other companies as well.
Armani and Galeotti became business partners, founding Giorgio Armani S.p.A. in July 1975. The company's first collection—a men's clothing line—debuted that year. Armani launched a women's collection the following year, which received a warm reception. His clothes were revolutionary at the time, introducing a more natural fit and using a subtle color palette. "My vision was clear: I believed in getting rid of the artifice of clothing. I believed in neutral colors," he later told WWD.
Armani expanded his operations, opening his first restaurant in 1989. He also bought clothing manufacturer Simint S.p.A. and shares in other businesses. Not even legal troubles could slow down Armani's momentum. He received only a suspended sentence in 1996 after pleading guilty to bribing Italian tax officials in 1989 and 1990.
By the end of the 1990s, Armani had over 2,000 stores worldwide and annual sales of roughly $2 billion. His company continued to add to its product offerings, expanding into the home goods market and book publishing. In 2005, Armani debuted his first haute couture line. He launched this high-end venture because he liked the challenge. "Think how liberating it is for a designer to make one dress, perfectly, to satisfy only one customer," he told In Style magazine.
Hotels have become Armani's latest venture. In 2010, he opened his first hotel in Dubai, and another one is expected to open in Milan. It seems that Armani has nearly tapped into every available design opportunity at this point in his career.
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