By Peter Howarth
‘Back in 2005, for spring, I celebrated the 30th anniversary of the founding of my company by entering the world of haute couture for the first time. I figured that in these times of big fashion corporations, globalisation and brands run by accountants, it is important to remember where fashion design started – with the desire to make beautiful clothes for people to wear.’ So says Giorgio Armani of his launch of the Giorgio Armani Privé collection, which is now a staple of the Paris haute couture calendar twice a year.
This was a bold decision for an established ready-to-wear designer to take, but Armani thought the time was right to return to the heart of the creative process and produce a collection made entirely by hand, from the finest materials. This has led to a similar conviction with regard to menswear.
‘Tailoring is my first love, and a hand-made-to-measure suit is really the male equivalent of a woman’s couture gown,’ says the designer. ‘I know this from experience: there is great pleasure to be derived from the process of creating a unique garment for yourself, and from the knowledge that you are wearing is a one-of-a-kind piece.’
Since launch, one of the notable things the house has seen is that, just as its female celebrity fans have embraced the Giorgio Armani Privé couture collection for their red carpet appearances, its male aficionados have opted for Made to Measure. Matt Damon, George Clooney, Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Downey Jr, Clive Owen, Samuel L Jackson and Robert De Niro have all made use of the exclusive service.
‘Tailoring is my first love, and a hand-made-to-measure suit is really the male equivalent of a woman’s couture gown’
Giorgio Armani Made to Measure is now available at key stores worldwide, including the one at 37 Sloane Street, London. The designer explains that the idea is to give people something that is personalised, but still has the Armani signature of elegance and comfort; after all, he is credited with redefining the idea of modern tailoring, so wisely his design signature is still all over these specially made garments.
‘Through the service a man gets all the benefits of a tailor-made garment – unique fit, fabric, lining, buttons, details – as well as the Giorgio Armani look. This collection brings the traditional and the modern together, combining the origins of the tailor’s craft with the innovations of a contemporary design studio.’ The fact that the finished garment will still look like an elegant, softly styled Armani designer suit is significant. This is what sets Armani Made to Measure apart from similarly tailor-made offerings from more traditional firms.
The process is based on consultations with skilled assistants in store. You can feel the fabrics, select those you like (the staff can advise which cloths work best in which styles), choose your own lining and button style, and select a silhouette: there’s a choice of lapels – single- or doublebreasted – and pocket positions, and decide whether to have pleated or non-pleated trousers.
Once you’ve had your first suit made to your satisfaction, the store will keep your details so you can be sent fabric swatches and order new suits by phone, in the confidence that they will fit.
‘What I like as a customer of my own Made to Measure service is that I have been part of a very specific design process, and as a result I have created an exclusive and unique piece; I also know that I will not meet anyone wearing the same suit as I have on. Each garment even features a personalised label to reinforce this message,’ says Armani.
It’s reassuring to realise that even a man who must have one of the most impressive wardrobes in the world can still get excited about going shopping.
Giorgio Armani Made to Measure is available at 37 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9LP. Prices start at £2,000 for styles in classic fabrics such as simple cottons, linens and virgin wools; delivery time is approximately six weeks and there are two fittings: the first when initial measurements are taken, the second once the garment has been delivered, to allow for final adjustments and alterations; armani.com