Photography Philip Sinden
Stylist Kenny Ho
Unlike most designers who are known for both their men’s and women’s fashion, Giorgio Armani started out with menswear and then added womenswear to his portfolio. His fascination has always been the tailored silhouette, so much so that he is often credited with creating the first credible working wardrobe for women that could compete in the office and boardroom on equal terms with their male colleagues’. A by-product of this has also been the aesthetic of androgyny that you see playfully addressed in many of his women’s designs, where he is as likely to be proposing a trouser suit as a red-carpet evening dress.
Watch a Brummell Shorts film made with Philip Sinden for Emporio Armani below
All this is to say that not only is Giorgio Armani a master of menswear, he’s an Italian master. The stricter lines of the British tradition, which originally derive from military uniforms, are not for him. Instead, his mission from the 1980s onwards has been to deconstruct tailoring, literally pulling out the stuffing – the pads and internal canvases – from jackets and experimenting with lighter-weight cloths. The end result, he says, is to make tailored clothing more comfortable. Why should we, as modern men, not feel relaxed and easy in what we wear?
Armani’s softening of tailoring was nothing less than a revolution, and its influence can be felt to this day in how we dress. Even Savile Row has adopted many modern techniques to make its output more comfortable for the 21st century; a traditional look no longer need be unforgiving. If the history of menswear over the last century has been one of progressive relaxation – from wing collars to turned-down, from frock coats to lounge suit jackets, from ties to open neck and from formal shoes to trainers – then Armani has played his part in this story, and today offers an elegant solution for those who want to look smart, but don’t want to look like they are dressing for a job interview.
It is ironic then that there is still a well-kept secret nestling in the Armani’s range of tailoring for men. Ask most people how much an Armani suit is and they will correctly assume around the £2,000 mark. However, in his Emporio Armani range, you can buy a wool single-breasted Armani suit, made in Italy, from £820.
Emporio Armani was launched as a way of responding to the fact that there was an emerging younger fashion market. It has since become associated with a metropolitan customer who has a global, cultured outlook. If Giorgio Armani is connected to film then Emporio Armani has nailed its colours to the music mast. But for all the prints, patterns, denim and trainers in the collection, which speak of nights in Shoreditch, Manhattan or Milan, Armani’s tailoring backbone is there too, giving you the opportunity to own a piece by this legend for less than half the price of his Giorgio Armani collection.
‘The essence of Emporio Armani is that it is metropolitan, youthful and fashionable, a line created for the contemporary man,’ says Giorgio Armani. ‘The looks are dynamic and incorporate a mixture of many different influences, from chic tailoring to a more casual vibe. I am convinced that the cut is where you make your mark, and with the Emporio Armani collections I work on shapes that are ideal for this kind of customer.’
Available at Armani boutiques; armani.com
Lead image: Cotton suit, £1,100; shirt, £165, tie, £105; pocket square, £65, shoes, £260, all EMPORIO ARMANI
Model: Nicholas Tarasenko at IMG
Grooming: Carol Morley