Salvatore Ferragamo (1898-1960). Famous Italian shoemaker. The 11th, out of 14 children, born in Bonito. A small village about 160 miles from Naples, from which emigration to America was often a necessity. At the age of 9 Salvatore, who left school in the third grade, created his first pair of shoes out of white cardboard for his sister’s first Holy Communion. From a young age he had clear ideas and wanted to become a shoemaker. Although, in southern Italy a shoemaker is one of the humblest professions, his parents, despite their poverty, were not happy with his choice.
At age 11 he was an apprentice in Luigi Festa’s workshop in Bonito, and by the age of 13 he had his own shop where he began to create women’s shoes. His workshop was located at home in a space between the front door and the kitchen, with the shop window facing a church. With five workers, of whom the oldest, was 18.
Immigration to the U.S.
Then, in 1914, at age 16, he immigrated, via the ship Stampalia, to the United States to join his brothers who were already there. Girolamo was a tailor, Secondino a carpenter, and Alfonso ironed clothes in the tailor’s shop of the American Film Company in Santa Barbara. But in Boston, his brother-in-law Joseph Covelli, had already found him a job at the Queen Quality Shoes Company. They produced thousands of shoes a day, soles and heels in half a second, and one minute for sewing. Anyone would have been thankful for such a job, but not the young Salvatore. He had a more noble idea of the shoemaker’s profession. He couldn’t stand those machines. He exclaimed, “They made shoes that were heavy, clumsy, and squat, with a toe shaped like a potato and a leaden heel.” He left the factory, joined his brothers in Santa Barbara, and convinced them to combine their small savings and invest in a shoe repair shop. As told in his autobiography, Il calzolaio dei sogni (The Shoemaker of Dreams), Salvatore immediately understood that California, with its fast-growing film industry, would be the Promise Land.
It all started when the property manager at the American Film Company complained about the boots worn in the western movies. He believed, if they were easy to wear, the styling was no good, if the style was attractive, they hurt the feet of the actors. Ferragamo offered his services and produced boots for the manager. This was a success and the director Cecil B. De Mille said, “We would have won the West sooner if we had had your boots.” It was the start of Ferragamo’s career.
Shoemaker of the Stars
At this time in Hollywood 1923, the future of the “Made in Italy” movement was beginning. The biggest stars visited his boutique, including Mary Pickford. He created the original Ferragamo model for her in brown kidskin, “with two ears standing up in front.” Suddenly, stars of cinema in California, would only feel like stars if they were wearing shoes made by the “Italian shoemaker.” So, he soon became known as the “shoemaker to the stars.” He created pale lavender sandals for Jean Harlow, cork-shaped heels for Gloria Swanson, and slippers in multicolored satin for Lillian Gish. Also, loafers for both Douglas Fairbanks and Rodolfo Valentino.
During the time of WWII there was a scarcity of materials, which fed his talents for new inventions. He used the strangest materials, including crystal, embroidery, feathers, kangaroo, antelope, sea leopard, and fish skins. This set him apart from other designers. Also, while in California he studied the anatomy of the foot and patented a system of putting thin layers of steel in the sole of the shoe in order to provide arch support. His success was due to the comfort of his shoes.
Return to Italy
Later, he returned to Florence, Italy in search of good artisans and opened his first workshop in 1927 with 60 workers. Then, in 1929, during the Great Depression, he faced bankruptcy. Ferragamo didn’t despair, and soon made a comeback. By 1938 he was able to acquire the Palazzo Spini Feroni on via Tornabuoni, which is today still the headquarters of the company. In that same year, he acquired the Michelangelo style villa Il Palagio in Fiesole.
The Wedge Shoe
Salvatore Ferragamos popularity continued. Maria José walked to the altar wearing his shoes. Mussolini, who suffered from corns and chilblains, wore his boots. The Maharani of Cooch Behar came and ordered 100 pair. From New York, Paris, and London came the ladies who wear Chanel and Schiaparelli. For evening sandals, he invented an upper in transparent paper. At this time, using steel for arch support was poor quality. So, he created the most iconic shoe of the century. It was an orthopedic model of a platform shoe, and people called it the wedge. It was made with a cork heel, that filled in the entire space formed by the arch of the foot. The model was a success, it sold everywhere. It marked a new era and immediately became a symbol of style at this time.
Salvatore Ferragamo’s Death
Then, in 1940 he married Wanda Miletti, a 18-year-old girl from his hometown who was the daughter of the local doctor and mayor. She would be the mother of his six children: Fiamma (died in 1998), Ferruccio, Giovanna, Fulvia, Leonardo, and Massimo. All worked in important positions within the company after the premature death of their father in 1960. After his death, Wanda, his wife, took over the company.
Salvatore left behind a company which was the symbol of the creativity and productivity in Italy. With 20,000 models and 350 patents. An infinite number of models marked different epochs, times, and fashions. Through the 50s Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland were considered the “It Girls” of Ferragamo. These women represented the beginning of the brands icon, which are still used today. The brand continues to use the “It Girl” in their brand language to communicate with the customer, and build brand image.
Ferragamo was famous for the creation of the wedge heel, French toe, platform heel, stage toe, the Roman sandal, the shell shaped sole, invisible nylon model, and the sculpted heel, shaped like the prow of a battleship. Also, you can’t forget the gloved arch shoe created for Maharani of Cooch Behar in 1938. Salvatore left a business that his heirs have carried forward, always remaining faithful to his professional standards and not just defending the status quo.
Brand Expansion From 1970s to early 2000s
During the 1970s, thanks to the initiative and preparation of Wanda, president of the company, the brand expanded and started offering total look collections. With fashion collections, men’s lines, perfumes, and eyeglasses, all of which gradually conquered the market. In 1978 his daughter, Fiamma, designed the Vara shoe which became a best seller. Today, the Vara shoe is considered a Ferragamo iconic element.
In July 1996, Ferragamo acquired Emanuel Ungaro, a luxury menswear line. Two years later the company turnover reached 850 billion liras, most of which came from Europe, U.S., the Far East, Africa, and Oceania. The company had 40 privately owned boutiques, plus several exclusive points-of-sale. Also, several of Salvatore’s grandchildren worked in the company. Following the birth of the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum, in Palazzo Spini Feroni, the company has committed itself to art exhibits and cultural activities, not just as a sponsor or patron. In 1999 the French designer Marc Audibet creates the new Autumn-Winter 2000-2001 collection. During this time, they appointed a new creative director of the menswear line, Massimiliano Giornetti.
In 2001 the company introduced its world-wide expansion plans, created by architect Michael Gabellini, to renovate, or open, a total of 100 boutiques. The renovations were to gain a still more sophisticated architectural style. A new store opens in Korea, in a prestigious commercial area of Seoul. The store occupies a four-storey building with a garden-terrace on the roof.
And by 2003 new stores will open in New York, Tokyo, and London. They ended 2001 with €641 million in consolidated revenues, 46% coming from the Far East.
In May 2001 Leonardo Ferragamo becomes president of Altagamma, an association founded in 1992 with 43 prestigious Italian companies as members.
The year of 2002 was full of good news and satisfaction. The company was acknowledged as the best brand of the year in China, where the label sells the most product. Then, beginning in June, Ferragamo starts a joint venture with Ermenegildo Zegna for the launch of the new brand Zefer, which ended later in 2013.
Later in October Wanda Ferragamo, the president of the company, is named “Woman Entrepreneur of the Year” by the “Committee of 200,” an organization that each year recognizes the top women managers and entrepreneurs all over the world. The ceremony took place in New York. The citation: “For success in the transformation of a shoe factory into an international luxury concern, in which the family maintains total control of its own flourishing business…”
New Creative Director
At this time, Graeme Black became the new creative director of womenswear. The collection for Winter 2003-2004 experiments with shapes, volumes, and combinations. It interprets with common sense colors and references inspired by the Russia of St. Petersburg. Recalling Constructivist art and a certain nostalgia for decadent opulence and taste reinterpreted in a very modern way. There were precious fabrics and ornaments, brocades, inlays with strong visual impact, and irreverent combinations such as a crocodile jacket with jeans. The accessories included cartoon-like floral and mother-of-pearl-covered platform shoes, that even would have pleased Salvatore, the founder. As well as incredible bags made of snake-skin decorated with small silver coins.
World-Wide Expansion Continued
Since 2002 the worldwide expansion plan is well under way. The distribution network had 16 new points-of-sale, including the important new boutiques in Osaka, Hong Kong (Pacific Place), Tokyo (Ginza Chou Dori), Amsterdam, and the historic center of Vienna, near the Hofburg castle. Also, stores in Shanghai Center (China), Paris (Avenue Montaigne), and Milan (via Montenapoleone) are re-opened after renovations.
In May of 2003 Ferragamo’s releases its very latest sunglasses, called the Maharani. These are special because they are inspired by the celebrated jeweled-sandal created in far off 1938 for the Maharani of Cooch Behar.
The Salvatore Ferragamo group ends the year with a consolidated turnover of €549 million, a 5% increase compared to 2003. Also, sales in Japan continue to increase. With 20% of their turnover there, a new flagship is opened in the heart of one of Tokyo’s most fashionable neighborhoods.
In 2004 Wanda Ferragamo is named Knight of the Big Cross by the president of Italy. In May of 2005, as part of the Fashion Project of the Province of Florence, with attendance by a large international public, Palazzo Strozzi hosts the fashion show in a memorable evening organized by Beppe Modenese. Then, starting in June 2005, Ferragamo Finanziaria enters a long-term agreement with the Porsche Design group to foresee the production and distribution of shoes, bags, and leather accessories.
In 2006 new shops in Via Condotti were opened in Rome and Frankfurt. In November of the same year, Michele Norsa became Ferragamo’s new CEO. His managerial mind led the company to expand more and more, exploring new markets such as India, Latin America and Thailand. A year later, after a new CEO, Cristina Ortiz, was appointed as creative director for the womenswear line from 2007 and stayed till 2010.
In 2008 Salvatore Ferragamo company celebrates their 80th anniversary with an exhibition in Shanghai. Later, in January of 2010 Massimiliano Giornetti, current chief creative director of menswear, becomes creative director for the womenswear line. So, at this time, Giornetti was holding a lot of creative power in Ferragamo being the creative director for both women’s and menswear lines.
They officially become a part of Milan stock exchange in 2011. At this time, profits rose around 70% to €103.3 millions.
Through 2013 Ferragamo focused on accessories, in addition to footwear. In early October, they began to target a younger generation by using an “innovative” digital campaign and revamping physical stores. Also, continuing to renovate stores in existing markets in Europe and the U.S. to boost profitability in its retail division.
Ferragamo reported a 81% rise in Net profits to €81 million in the first half of 2013. The revenues are outside the Italian market, which has struggled to emerge from recession.
Their world-wide expansion plan are a success. As of 31 December 2014, the Salvatore Ferragamo Group has posted total revenues of €1.332 million and a 5.9% increase at current exchange rates. At this time, political tensions in Russia and Ukraine reduced the number of shoppers traveling from the region to Europe lead to decreasing number of sales in some cities through Europe. The Asia Pacific region is the best performer with 37.2% of sales.
Salvatore Ferragamo open new shops in less well-known cities Yantai in China, Surabaya in Indonesia, and Cartagena in Colombia. They continued to renovate stores in Europe and U.S. including Miami and Rome. Also, they reopened in San Francisco, on the west coast of America which is a popular destination for holidaying Chinese shoppers.
Salvatore Ferragamo continues to meet challenges due to a weaker euro, lower oil prices, and economic weakness in China. Also, United States, as a strong dollar hits tourist flows, have weighed on several luxury goods companies in recent months. Hong Kong deterirated further in the third quarter. By contrast, Japan has a strong performance thanks to Chinese tourists.
Asia Pacific area, the biggest market, experienced a 2% increase in sales in the first nine months of 2015. Revenues were up 7% from a year earlier, thanks to a 8% increase in the fouth quarter.
In 2016 revenues total €1.438 billion.
The situation in China is not yet get recovered because of the failing oil prices and global security threats affecting tourist spending. But sales grow particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States, and push for e-commerce in Asia
Currently, Salvatore Ferragamo is going through major changes. In August 2016 Eraldo Poletto was appointed as CEO. Who is credited for doubling the sales at the accessibly-priced handbag maker, Furla, in the last five years. Also, 3 new creative directors have been hired after the departure of Massimiliano Giornetti. This includes Guillaume Meilland for menswear, along with Paul Andrew for Women shoes, and Fulvio Rigoni for Woman’s-Ready-to-Wear.
In October 2017 after the departure of Fulvio Rigoni, Paul Andrew is appointed Creative Director, Women’s Collection.
The brand now focuses on creating unique and exciting campaigns to bring back its positioning of industry leader it once had in the WWII era.
Ferragamo’s designs will live forever. The classic ballet flat is always in style and most women’s go to shoe. The brand is known as the exemplary ideal shoe for women. It strives to be excellent in terms of quality, by keeping the production, and standard of craftsmanship, exceptional.
Cesare Paciotti is a shoe designer from Italy born in 1958, but he did not start the business that bears his name. The shoe business, which was first named Paris, was founded in 1948 by his parents, Giuseppe and Cecilia Paciotti, in Civitanova Marche. The company specialized in high quality handmade shoes.
At an early age Cesare learned from his parents the mastery of Italian shoemaking and created sketches and prototypes. He went to DAMS University in Bologna then inherited the business from his father in 1980. At this time, they renamed the business Cesare Paciotti and he became the creative director, while his sister Paola managed the company matters.
First Shoe Collection & Menswear
In the beginning of the 80s he created his first shoe collection. Also, his men’s line, with its nonconformist designs and outrageous advertising campaigns, stood out in what was a traditional and conservative field. Innovation and high quality are combined with strong geometric shapes and the prolific use of metallic accessories. At the same time Gianni Versace, Romeo Gigli and Dolce Gabbana, asked them to craft their shoes.
At the beginning of the 1990s he launched a women’s collection and the highly recognisable stiletto heel, creating extremely feminine shoes. A few seasons he created a range of handbags, cases, backpacks, hats, and overnight bags. In 1998 he launched a range of eyewear. In 2001 the year closed with a turnover of €49 million, an increase of €13 million from the previous year.
The brand’s strong personality is symbolised by the dagger, whose hilt bears the designer’s initials creating an unmistakable logo for the maison.
In 2002 the brand launched the new collection “Paciotti 4Us.” The brand was one of the 40 Italian exhibitors participating in WSA International in Las Vegas, one of the most important fairs for the US shoe market. Launch of a handkerchief shaped bag called Hebe, like the “servant” of the gods charged with pouring out ambrosia at banquets.
In February 2003 The New York Fashion Institute of Technology Museum celebrated Cesare Paciotti’s shoes, along with Gucci handbags, and hundreds of other designer pieces, in the exhibition Italy, in the Life Styles. From May to August Cesare Paciotti’s more classic footwear was featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in Goddess. This was an exhibition exploring and underlining the influence of Classical dress on fashion of the last three centuries, through a collection of hundreds of garments, prints, and photographs from 1800 to the present day.
A Hard Time
But in 2013 the Paciotti company goes into crisis. This crisis is connected to the collapse of the internal market and a huge sum that the company should have received by usual Italian customers that did not pay their debt with Paciotti because of the recession. Two-thirds of the company were based on the turnover in sales in Italy, but the local market, with the collapse in sales, was greatly reduced.
After a strong period of deep recession, the Paciotti company feels the need to continue its activities relaunching the brand, despite the financial blockade that has suffered in recent years. The company has had the support from the suppliers, who trusted Paciotti even in such a delicate moment.
In October 2017, Paciotti collaborated with Slovenian-Italian stylist Ada Kokosar, and launched a capsule collection called Paciotti by Midnight. This collection is inspired from Cinderella’s glass slippers and Marie Antoinette’s lavish style. All of this collection are made from PVC, which allow you to wear these satin shoes in the rain.
Today, Paciotti spa aims not only to a growth in sales in the Italian market, but also in foreign markets, such as Russia and East, whose revenues have increased 32-65%. In addition to a revival in new markets, there has also been an internal restructuring, with 120 employees in Civitanova Marche, a few flagship stores and a particular attention to e-commerce, with sales increased by 3.5%. The Paciotti family has decided to invest everything to save the house, symbol of luxury shoes made in Italy.
Casadei is an Italian shoe factory that was established in S. Mauro Pascoli, Forlì Italy at the end of the 1950s as an artisanal workshop with particularly skilled production. The brand journey as the global footwear leader is anything but ordinary. If you see their success trajectory from an aerial overview, you’ll find that their growth arc is streaked with design excellence and entrepreneurial gut.
The label’s quest for age defying and bold designs began in the year 1958. Quinto and Flora Casadei are the protagonists of Casadei’s spirited tale of two cordwainers who made footwear for the inbound tourists in the eastern Italian coastline. Together, they built the legacy of their humble shoe label in a workshop of two. Tucked away in San Mauro Pascoli in Forli, the provincial town of Romagna Rivera, the Casadei pair brought in the beginning of a new art form of shoe-making, in a region primarily known for agriculture and renaissance frescos.
The 1960s saw the development of a more formal business structure, the beginning of exports to Europe, the U.S. and the Far East, and the start of a full-fledged line dedicated to evening wear and a Collection of bags. By the late sixties, the whispers of Casadei’s detailed luxury spread beyond the Italian frontiers. After dressing feet of strangers on vacation with their exotic offerings, the family-run business expanded in terms of production scale and international presence. The company gained structure and channelled its focus on catering exports to larger sections of European market as well as the United States of America.
First Platform Shoe
They elevated a level above from their initial line of sandals and launched the first series of platform shoes, a popular and trendy choice in the eccentric decade of the ‘60s. Early seventies allowed the two shoemakers to shift their base from the homely workshop to an industrial facility. This change triggered the journey of a new kind of shoe-speech.
Taking the platforms as their prototype, they experimented with the idea of lace-up and slip-on generation of platforms. Further, they added a dose of bravery in design by creating a line of platforms covered with fabrics sporting delicate embroidery. Later, they switched gears to introduce an era of leather pumps balanced on low flared heels.
By the end of the seventies, their instinctual understanding of versatility and utility kicked in with the earliest version of Casadei boots that can be zipped down from thigh-high, to knee-high and finally to short booties. With a new prototype in market to be tried on, they also expanded their presence in Asian market. By 1977 they were now open for business in the Japanese market.
The Famous Casadei Pump
In the early eighties, the label expanded its operation to the Middle East. After the roaring feat in the feet fantasy expedition with their boots and platform shoes, Casadei turned to the category of pumps. Their rendition of pumps saw an imaginative exploration with polka dots and velour tulle, finished with high conical leather heels dipped in golden hue.
In a matter of no time, the pumps secured a spot in their hall of fame, and till date is considered an iconic product by the label. Designed to adapt the graceful curves of the feminine feet, the label continues to dabble with different fabrics, finishes and embroideries to create newer identities with passage of time. Towards the end of the eighties, the label was quick to adapt to the sportswear trend by building a dictionary of hybrid sneakers and football boots with heels.
Like most family-run operations, every company witnesses the arrival of a new protagonist in the story. For Casadei it was appointment of Quinto and Flora’s son, Cesare Casadei, as the next creative director of the business. Cesare took office in 1994 to continue Casadei’s ongoing journey. Cesare’s first-hand experience in production amplified the promotion of their ‘Made In Italy’ brand image at an international level. Cesare’s arrival also marked the beginning of unisex styles. Subsequently, he also signed off the manufacturing of casual footwear, each spectacular in their own regard.
In early 2000s, the label made a decision to relocate its Milanese showroom to Via dell’Annunciata, that was eventually remodelled to become the Milan headquarter for the company. At this time, the brand became a favourite amongst a growing mass of celebrities. Hollywood’s A-listers were photographed wearing Casadei iconic creations, making the label become a significant name to be reckon with in the fashion circuit. Casadei also became a popular choice for various fashion publications when globally recognised photography talents shot the brand’s advertising campaigns.
In October 2002 the company, which employs 200 people, opened a new single-brand shop in the heart of London, at no. 12 Beauchamp Place, in the Knightsbridge section. In the firm’s worldwide activity, Italy is the second market after the U.S., and has 400 points-of-sale, 4 of which are single-brand shops (Milan, Florence, Rimini, and Ferrara). With Germany, it is the most important in Europe. Two more boutiques are opened in Russia, in St. Petersburg and Moscow. The company’s choices for expansion are supported by the excellent turnover, which in 2001 reached €32,604 million, an increase of 14.82% in comparison to the previous year.
The Federation Of Italian Footwear in 2004 launched a limited edition of postage stamps to celebrate and commemorate the legacy of Casadei. This very move reflected a mark of respect for an Italian label that represents the ideology of fashion forward footwear.
Casadei turned 50 in the year 2008. To commemorate the brand’s half a century worth of eye-catching designs and artisanal glory, photographer Ellen Von Unwerth was called on board. The result culminated itself in a grand book featuring Casadei’s footwear through the years, followed by an exhibition at Milan’s La Triennale. Together, they encompassed the celebratory tones of the brand’s golden jubilee.
With every progressing year the label opened its door to a new territory. The beginning of 2010s sees Casadei launching into a full throttle mode in the landscape of brand expansion, with the opening of boutiques in Rome, Cannes, Dubai, Casablanca and finally in New York. Apart from expansion, the year 2010 itself marked the momentous presentation of Casadei heels and shoes during the Milan Fashion Week.
After conquering the brick and mortar setups, the label discovered the digital world with the launch of their website in 2012, followed by the arrival of their e-commerce boutique in 2013. Later in 2015, Cesare Casadei and Architect Marco Costanzi gave Milan its first footwear concept store, followed by the unveiling of a new boutique in the exclusive Albemarle Street, Mayfair London. In the same year, the company re-launches its online shopping portal, a step taken in the direction of establishing new aesthetics and vision.
Casadei kickstarted 2017 with the Super Bowl game in United States of America. Lady Gaga, who was chosen to deliver the prestigious half-time performance was spotted in the famous Casadei blade stilettos during the pre-game show. Also, Victoria Beckham is frequently seen wearing the Blade Stiletto, a favorite of celebrities because its claimed to be the comfiest of all brands.
Till date, Casadei continues to be a story of an entrepreneurial swiftness and smartness, one that is hallmarked by expert craftsmanship and well sought-out innovation. It is a testimony of Italian heritage and vision, all summed up with gracious use of vibrant colours, blended with artisanal values.
Christian Dior (1905-1957). A tailor and a designer who was among the most important figures in all of French haute couture. Dior was born in Gramville, in northwestern France. He had a happy childhood in Paris, as well as on holiday in Normandy, in which he was free to abandon himself to his genius for drawing and to a real talent in making costumes for carnival and for informal parties at home.
He already had a definite instinct for art and for the joy of living. He had a clear calling for artistic creation, supported by constant visits to museums and galleries, would emerge only later. After interrupting his university studies in political science, and having put aside the idea of a diplomatic career, which was desired for him by his parents, he started a partnership with his friend Jean Bonjean, the owner of an art gallery in Paris. In this art gallery there where the main figures of the various avant-guards of the 20th century exhibited their works.
Designer at Piguet and Lucien Lelong
But his mother’s death and the bankruptcy of his father’s business changed his life, making his tormented youth the exact opposite of his happy childhood. In 1934, he fell seriously ill with tuberculosis. After a year of recovery in Spain, he went back to Paris and began to work on the fashion section of the weekly Le Figaro Illustré. He designed hats and began to sell sketches of clothing and accessories to several fashion houses. This lean period lasted 7 years, until 1938, when he found a steady job as a clothing designer at the maison Piguet. One of his first successes was a very full skirt that could be worn even in the daytime.
Then, the outbreak of World War II and his service with the army engineers put a stop to everything. The signing of the armistice found him in the south of France where, in his father’s house, he would spend a year and a half enjoying nature and the simple life of a village. Only the insistence of his friends convinced him to return to Paris, in 1941. His place at Piguet wasn’t there waiting for him, but he did join the maison of Lucien Lelong, where Balmain also worked as an assistant. There, for many seasons, he would design the collections, creating very tight skirts as well as flared skirts, bringing success not only to Lelong, but to himself as well, because he became the head dress designer.
The Beginning: Dior Maison
By now, he felt ready to manage a maison of his own and knew he could count on an innate talent for business. It was 1946, the year of his partnership with Boussac, who financed him with the considerable sum, for the time, of 60 million francs. In this adventure he was joined by some of Lelong’s key people, such as Raymonde Zehnacker, Marguerite Carré, and Mitza Bricard. A young Pierre Cardin was hired as cutter. His team went to work immediately, in the building on Avenue Montaigne.
The New Look
In the collective memory, he is linked to the New Look, which, on February 12th 1947, made him famous in one day. It was his first Collection. After the morning presentation, he was pushed out on the balcony of his atelier at Avenue Montaigne 30 to salute a crowd of applauding women. The Paris newspapers were on strike, and so the explosion set off by Dior was felt first in America, where Carmel Snow, the director of Harper’s Bazaar said, “It’s a new look.”
The women’s collection, offered in the Corolla line, later called the New Look, was extremely new in its accentuated femininity, but with an antique touch: a very tiny waist (the corset and girdle were back, like a sudden jump into the past), high breasts, small shoulders, and long, full skirts with tulle petticoats to increase the bulk. It was a look backwards compared to the liberated body of Poiret and the one caressed by Chanel. It was a return to an aristocratic elegance, and also to a battle of hems, from Collection to Collection.
Dior returned the fashion world back to femininity. He launched immense, long blossoming skirts, with waists squeezed by small bodice-jackets, made half the women in Europe dream and tremble with trepidation. His intuition was striking, but the event which really decided his future was a meeting with Marcel Boussac. The French textile entrepreneur had everything to gain from a lifting of the wartime restrictions on fabrics, and each of Dior’s swaying skirts consumed more than 16 yards of fabric, while an evening dress took as much as 27 yards.
Avenue Montaigne, an address which is still today considered magical and pivotal in the expansion and increase in places and regions of a charismatic empire, whose charm was always respectful of the furnishings and atmosphere chosen by Dior: Louis XV armchairs with the grey-and-white medallion that was a symbol of the maison on the back. Another motif associated with the maison was the lily of the valley, used with Dior’s first perfume, Diorissimo, in 1948, and later sprayed generously on the pearl grey fitted carpet in the days of Dior’s many presentations.
Dior is Dior: A Splendid Atelier
The object of both praise and invective, Dior had, by now, become Dior: a splendid atelier with a staff of 85 workers. He could change his style, and he did, naming many lines after letters of the alphabet, such as the H, A, and Y lines. He was able to revive the artisanal skills of the “petites mains,” and could amaze people with hard-to-figure-out technical devices which could make the cut of a garment crushproof.
When Dior was awarded with the recognition of Neiman Marcus, received in America, the designer adjusted his approach to appeal to a more dynamic post-war woman. He lifted the skirts at the back (in 1948), cut soft jackets, and presented tapered skirts (in 1949), making them shorter the following year, matching them with sack-shaped jackets with a horseshoe neck. In 1954 the silhouette became softer, waists were no longer squeezed in an H-line, and a love-hate relationship with the sack dress was about to begin.
In 1955 came the A line and the Y line, with the dominating motifs the large V necks and dresses matched with immense stoles. In that same year his pursuit of the caftan had a marked effect on fashion, with a delicate high-waist dress in chiffon and a sheath dress as tight as a corset. From perfumes to prêt-à-porter, from accessories to underwear, with licenses and new boutiques in Latin America and Cuba, Dior seemed to want to put every possible avenue of distribution under his own name in order to guarantee its long life.
He launched stiletto heels and excelled in the attention given to accessories such as hats, gloves, and jewellery.
New designer: Yves Saint Laurent
In 1957, the maison presented Dior’s last Collection, a variation on the theme of the vareuse, a kind of blouse with buttoned flap pockets that falls loosely at the sides and is often worn with a khaki bush jacket. Christian Dior passed away in the Summer of 1957 in Montecatini. He became an immortal, and one of the most admired haute couture empires in the world became a legend.
The 1958 Collection would be designed by Yves Saint-Laurent, who three years before had become Dior’s assistant and heir. The Collection was called Trapezium and it was a triumph. Called for military service in 1960, Saint-Laurent would, on his return, create his own atelier, as his place at Dior had been taken by Marc Bohan, someone who, over thirty years, would express the spirit of the founder in a measured and creatively elegant way.
New Leadership: Bernard Arnault
In 1988, a big retrospective at the Pavillon Marsan in the Musée des Arts de la Mode at the Louvre celebrated Dior and the new leadership of Bernard Arnault, the wizard of the luxury goods business. In that same year, the maison opened its first boutique in New York, as the number one French company in the U.S. did not yet have a point-of-sale in the Big Apple. The following year, Marc Bohan left. Then the Italian Gianfranco Ferré arrived.
In four annual collections of high fashion and prêt-à-porter, some of which were memorable, starting with revived images of early Dior and gradually emphasizing a timeless luxury that was daring and magic in its opulence. He developed a range of creativity suitable to both the present day and to the prestige of an illustrious maison, marked by the perfumes Dune and Dolce Vita. In more recent times, after Ferré’s return to Italy, the impeccable beauty typical of the griffe wasn’t always apparent in the Collections of John Galliano, who joined Dior as Creative Director in 1996, which were more prone to irony and excess than to the voluptuous grace of Dior’s perfection. Also, later in July 2000 the 32 year old French-Tunisian designer Hedi Slimane takes over the men’s prêt-à-porter from Patrick Lavoix.
By January 2002 Dior renews Sàfilo’s license to produce and distribute the eyeglass Collection manufactured by them since 1996 and which, in the following year, will also have a men’s line. The year 2001 closes with a deficit. Christian Dior SA Holding, owned 65% by Bernard Arnault, shows a loss of €95 million, on a 6% increase in sales, with revenues of €12.567 billion. The loss is attributed to reorganization costs of the retail operations and to investments needed to reorganize the U.S. business after September 11th. In 2000, the profit was €251 million.
In April 2002 Dior opens a shop in Rome, in one of the most evocative places in the city, the corner of via Condotti overlooking Piazza di Spagna. A small space is reserved for the jewellery designer Victoire de Castellane. Later, in June Hedi Slimane is nominated best designer of the year. The prize is given by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. By the end of 2002, the company shows a net profit of €178 million, against a loss of €95 million in 2001. The operating profit has increased 31%.
In March 2003 Vincenzo Moccia, 43, becomes director of Dior Italy, after having been director of Bulgari Italy and of Gucci for northern Italy. The Italian market has contributed a turnover of €492 million (an increase of 41%) and an operating profit of €33 million to Dior.
In Paris, the Dior woman surprises once again and is dressed in latex from head to toe. Galliano has designed the 2004 prêt-à-porter Collection for his usual crazy, sexy, and exaggerated woman, half geisha and half clown, part Japanese and part Chinese. There are skirts and miniskirts in feathered tulle, filmy and billowing, worn with long jackets; latex skirts that look like a second skin but are decorated with a thousand flowers; blouses that are tight on the hips, similar to mini-dresses and draped like a peplum, with bat-like sleeves; very tight trousers with laces that reach the waist; clouds of silk and chiffon; high heels; platform shoes 8 inches high with ankle laces and very thin strings sparkling with studs; colored fur coats; fake flower-patterned kimonos; and important and over-the-top op-art dresses with women covered up to the nose by a latex muzzle.
Later in April, Sidney Toledano, the president of Christian Dior SA announced that 15 new boutiques will be opened worldwide in addition to the current 145. In 2002 there were 23 new boutiques, and in 2003 there were 15, part of 200 planned within 2007. In Paris, where there already are 15, a new mega-store is opened on Rue Royale.
100 Year Celebration of Christian Dior’s Birth
2005 marks the centennial celebration of Christian Dior’s birth. To celebrate the anniversary, the French Minister of Culture, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, opens the exhibit “L’Homme du Siècle” in Granville, in Dior’s childhood home, which is now a museum, Les Rumbs. The celebrations continue in Paris, during Fashion Week, with a show that covers Dior’s entire life, with history, the theater, his mother in an Edwardian-style dress, the little boy Christian in a sailor’s suit, and so on, until his success with the divas who visited his atelier. The show is “played” by today’s top models, and mentions his passion for dancing and Peru. Later in 2007, Hedi Slimane left the fashion house and Kris Van Assche replaced her as artistic director.
In april 2008 Sidney Toledano, president and CEO of Christian Dior Couture, announces the nomination of, Delphine Arnault Gancia, as general Vice Director of Christian Dior Couture. This year is characterized by the crisis that affected the entire world, but Sidney Toledano and John Galliano remain successful in having very high revenues, mostly due to the American market. They declare that accessories, woman’s ready-to-wear and Haute Couture increased the business. In 2008, Christian Dior Group records €8.2 billions of sales, gaining 11% compared to the previous year and a net income of €352 millions. All this is mostly due to the emergent markets China, Russia and Middle East.
In 2009, Dior launches the new advertising campaign for the Lady Dior bag, with the french actress Marion Cotillard as testimonial. Camille Miceli, nominated artistic director of costume jewellery and artistic advisor, enters the group and in this period, after nine years, the high jewellery and watches shop reopen in the french capital.
In 2010, Christian Dior and Safilo Group announces that their license agreement for design, world wide production and distribution of the Dior eyewear and sunglasses collection has been extended to december 31 2017. This year, the revenues amounts to €21.1 billion with an increase of 19% compared to 2009, due to the good performances in Europe, Asia and Usa. On these bases, Christian Dior announces the project of opening and renewal of boutiques on high potential markets.
John Galliano Fired
In 2011 after being house’s creative director for 15 years, John Galliano was fired by Dior because of making antisemitic and racist insults in a drunken rant. His Autumn/Winter 2011 fashion show went on during Paris Fashion Week without him. Also, during this period Pushkin museum of Moscow praises the maison Dior with the exhibition with the title of “Inspiration Dior”. The exhibition tells the story of the maison through the works of art that have inspired monsieur Christian Dior.
Later in 2012, Raf Simons was pointed as chief creative director. The Belgian designer, aged 44, will be responsible of the women Haute Couture collections, ready-to-wear and accessories. The french fashion house declares that Simons will project the style of the maison towards the 21°century, creating a real change. Shortly after the announcement of Raf Simons entry, his first collection of Haute Couture is presented in Paris. It was a collection in the tradition of the maison, revisited in a modern and architectural key, with his minimalist style and very far from the style of Galliano. The designer astounds with one of the best collections of the brand. A real selection of ideas from a designer with a rare gift: the ability of mixing modernity with history.
In 2012, Dior launch its first online magazine, called Diormag. The news on the website are updated daily with informations regarding the global activites of the griffe. After one year waiting, on april 9 2012 the Raf Simons era starts, as he is nominated the new artistic director of the maison. In 2013, maison Dior engages the actress Jennifer Laurence as testimonial of the advertising campaign for Miss Dior bag, with $20 million contract for three years.
After one year from Raf Simons entry in the french maison, Christian DiorCouture reveals that profits have increased of 31%, while incomes have grown of 14%. Such results are also due to the influence of Kris Van Assche, creative director of menswear department. In the meanwhile, Delphine Arnault Gancia, daughter of Bernard Arnault, head of LVMH group, announces her decision to give up her collaboration with the maison Dior to work exclusively for Louis Vuitton.
During an interview in 2014, Sidney Toledano confirms that their success came from the very high quality of their production, exalting Made in Italy and promoting productive firms also in Veneto and in Tuscany. Besides, he declares that the maison produces in Italy because it is one of the few countries where it is mantained a beautiful craftmanship, due to the familiar tradition. He had already told Arnault that Lady Dior bag could be made only in Florence in the ’90s.
In 2015, Raf Simons decides to engage pop star Rihanna as testimonial for the “Secret Garden” campaign. It is a big step forward, as in seventy years of the brand history she is the first black woman. Serge Brunschwig, Dior Chief operating officer up till now, achieves the role of Dior Homme division president. In the same year, Dior together with Chanel and Louis Vuitton are in the lead of the ranking made by Brandwatch considering the best and the more influential brands on social media.
Maria Grazia Chiuri
After 3 years, on October 2015, Raf Simons has decided not to renew his contract and to leave Dior for personal reasons. The inside team of the french griffe is asked to design the spring\summer 2016 couture collection and the fall\winter 2016-2017 ready-to-wear collection. Because of the exit of Raf Simons, the revenues show a slight slowdown in the second semester of the exercise, with €961 million in sales.
In july 2016, Maria Grazia Chiuri became the first female creative director at Dior in its 70 years of history. A woman with a long career in fashion, first for Fendi and then for Valentino, always close to Pierpaolo Piccioli. M.G. Chiuri is the first woman to take the reins of the brand: to date there have been only man like Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferrè, John Galliano and Raf Simons. The appointment of an Italian woman confirms the renewal of the made in Italy creativity.
In 2016, Dior flies to Melbourne to celebrate seventy years of the maison. The work of the french couturier is the protagonist of a retrospective at the National Gallery of Victoria.
On December 31 2016, Safilo and Dior renewed their agreement till 2020 for the design, production and distribution of the eyewear and sunglasses collections. Furthermore, this period is characterized by the exploit of Alessandro Micheli slippers and the T-shirts with revolutionary and feminist slogans by Maria grazia Chiuri.
2017 marks the 70th anniversary for Dior, the French fashion house celebrated its anniversary with exhibition called “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams”. The exhibition took place in Musée des Arts Décoratifs in paris, where more than 300 breathtaking gowns from across decades were displayed.
Also, Baby Dior arrives on Instagram. Dior is one of the few brands to have created an account dedicated exclusively to childrens wear. Also, Natalie Portman has become the testimonial for the Miss Dior fragrance, producing several beautiful floral campaigns. She is invited to the south of France to the harvest the Rose de Grasse, a rare and precious flower at the heart of the Miss Dior fragrance.
Dior Homme is on the point of entering the Rinascente Duomo, Milano, after the closing up of via Montenapoleone store due to unsatisfactory sales.
In 1953, Renzo Rossetti, along with his brother Renato, opened their first shoe factory in Parabiago, which later developed into their brand known as Fratelli Rossetti. Then, the company was officially established in 1955 by the Rossetti brothers, who were born in Sanguinetto, near Verona. The brothers first created sport shoes then moved on to formal shoes.
Renzo began working at the age of 13, and was a typographer, mechanical draftsman, and artisanal producer of shoes for cyclists. Success came through the artisanal perfection. Renzo exclaims,
“We have always worked as if we had to personally answer to the customer for every pair of shoes we sell him.”
This includes innovation applied to a classic style. In the book I Mass-Moda. Fatti e Personaggi dell’Italian Look (Spinelli Publishers, 1979), Adriana Mulassano says “Men, poor things, as to shoes, were really in a bad way.” The market wouldn’t offer anything other than laced shoes with fringes and ‘derbies’, in black or brown calfskin. There were no new seasonal styles and no imagination. And so they started: the banning of laces, the promotion of loafers, the launch of the first very soft unlined shoes to be worn in summer without socks, the marketing of boots, higher heels, and the introduction of colors through an ageing process that would make them more acceptable.
Signature Moccasin Brera
In 1961, their signature moccasin, Brera, was created. Success was such that in 1966 Fratelli Rossetti was forced to expand and build a very modern production plant.
In the 70’S, Fratelli Rossetti, collaborated with the much celebrated Italian designers like Valentino, Armani, and Pierre Cardin, combining creativity and production results.
The first women’s line was created in 1973. Single-brand boutiques followed one after another in Genoa, Venice, Milan (at via Matteotti-via Montenapoleone), Bari, Rome, Paris, and Chicago. Diego, Renzo’s son, joined the family business in 1978. Under his direction, Fratelli Rossetti was the first Italian fashion label to open a boutique on Madison Avenue in New York. Today he is company Chairman.
Dario began working in the style department in 1981, he attended an artistic university with courses for shoemaking. He is an art lover who collects antiques and is passionate about vintage cars and searching for inspiration for new creations to add to the collections. In the Nineties, Luca graduated from Milan’s Bocconi University, and was already involved in the management side of the business. At this time, all three brothers were involved in the business.
The Flexa Shoe
They recently created the Flexa shoe, a 18 piece hand-assembled which adjust to the foot’s movement thanks to unusual flexibility and a removable foot-strap.
The historic shoe factory in Parabiago, near Milan manufactures more than 400,000 pairs of shoes a year, with a turnover that in the late 1990s was about 70 billion liras. Some 50% of the production is sold in Italy and the rest is exported. Each year about 10% goes to the U.S., where the company has been active for more than twenty years and where, in June 1999, it opened a large showroom on Madison Avenue in New York.
In May 2002 the Flexa Sailing model is created at the explicit request of Mascalzone Latino (Latin Scoundrel), the Italian boat competing in the America’s Cup. It has all the characteristics requested by the team members. The first prototypes are tested by the crew during training at Elba and in Auckland. The model goes on sale in July 2002 in two versions: the Flexa Sailing Professional, with the same technical standards as the shoe worn by the crew in the America’s Cup, and Flexa Sailing, less high-tech, for fans of sailing in general. The shoe is available in red and blue, the colors of Mascalzone Latino, and in a sand color.
In November, shoes, ankle boots, and desert boots are created in the brightest colors: red, green, and yellow; flats and heels are created for singing and dancing. In the same style as the costumes by Elisa Savi, these shoes have been designed by the Rossetti brothers for the American musical Fiddler on the Roof, which received three Oscars in its film version and had more than 3,000 performances on Broadway in New York, in London, and in Japan.
The Fratelli Rossetti Family
By 2003 the company employs 260 workers, and is one of the most important in the field regarding turnover, number of employees, and international image. The entire ownership is still in the hands of the Rossetti family. The president of the group is Renzo Rossetti, who sets long-term strategy. His three sons have other operating functions: Diego, 46, in the company for more than twenty years, is the marketing and commercial director and coordinates all the communication activities in Italy and abroad; Dario, 44, in the company for more than ten years, follows coordination, planning, modeling, and purchases; Luca, 37, a graduate of the Bocconi University in Milan, is the general manager.
In February 2003 Fratelli Rossetti opens its first outlet space in Foxtown, a large multi-brand store in Mendrisio, Switzerland. The strategy chosen by Fratelli Rossetti at the beginning has not changed over the years and can be summed up in a concept that is still extremely effective even today: maximum harmony between technology and tradition, maximum equilibrium between quality and price. At this time in Italy, there are 13 boutiques. Abroad, the company’s main locations are in New York, Paris, London, Brussels, and Hong Kong.
Renzo Rossetti Museum
Renzo Rossetti opens his own museum with a rich collection of ethnicshoes accumulated over a period of 50 years in Parabiago. He began the collection at an early age, before World War II, and very much desired to see it have its own space. The museum can be visited by appointment. It has 3,000 pairs of shoes that are perfectly maintained.
In 2005 after the opening of a third boutique in Paris, on Rue de Grenelle, comes the début of a new franchise store in Dubai. The company has a turnover of €55 million in 2004.
In 2004 and 2008, they opened a franchise store in Dubai and one store in Hong Kong. As China started being the new luxury market, 2010 saw the brand opening its stores in China.
In 2011, Fratelli Rossetti collaborated with the Californian Designer George Esquivel, combining the quality of the brand with the innovative colour matches, for their Spring/Summer collection. The same year itself, a virtual store was launched for online sales. In 2012, the brand teamed up with NBC Sports for Super Bowl, providing commentators covering the football event with footwear.
Fratelli Rossetti “Made to Measure”
In the same year itself, they launched ‘made to measure’ service. Fratelli Rossetti launched a limited edition collection for the online platform shoescribe. The ‘Toledo Experience’ was a live show to the audience showcasing the famous hand-colouring technique, happened at the Montenapoleone in Milan in 2013. To strengthen the brand’s presence in Far East, a 100 square meter store in Taiwan was opened, in the Mall of Taipei in the same year.
In 2015, the brand proposed ‘A tribute to Brera’ their iconic moccasin. The same year the brand introduced Dandy, the derby in mirror versions. Also, #sexyinflats was a project done, dedicated to women who can feel sexy even without their heels on. The year was closed with a turnover of €72 million year, which was 4% higher than the previous year, showing the brand has the correct direction for growth.
Fratelli Rossetti, has an aim for 2018, which is to expand itself by opening 11 stores in China. With a wide presence, the brand has expanded while retaining its values and at the same time catering to the changing demands of the fashion and the consumer.
Giorgio Armani is an Italian designer, born in Piacenzwas in 1934. He is by far the dominant figure in the extraordinary flourishing of high fashion prêt-à-porter, which spread from Milan throughout the world.
Giorgio Armani is an Italian designer, born in Piacenzwas in 1934. He is by far the dominant figure in the extraordinary flourishing of high fashion prêt-à-porter, which spread from Milan throughout the world. An individual who, due to his physical charm, detached manner, and ability to merge work and environment in a vision that is simple, concise, rigorous, and clear, has seemed to express a perfect symbiosis between his own lifestyle and the elegance of his models. His economic empire is the reward not only of creativity and imagination, as it is for many other famous names in fashion. His success expresses a creative power that has been able to interpret desires, reconcile opposing needs and brilliantly reinvent a basic article of clothing.
Armani himself embodies the success of his famous jacket, which freed men from the old armor of the bourgeois suit, gave women self-confidence in a masculine look, and, as it was said during the 1970s, helped them more than did feminism itself. The designer began his spectacular career in prêt-à-porter at the age of 40, after a long, multifaceted and invaluable apprenticeship in which he learned much, both about taste and the relationship between fashion and business.
La Rinascente & Cerutti
After interrupting the study of medicine, in the 1960s he worked at La Rinascente, at the time a true crucible for the creative skills of architects, designers, market researchers, and advertising experts. His activity was wide-ranging and went from the buying of men’s clothing, and figuring out from the market, with sufficient lead time for manufacturing, how many people wanted a change of wardrobe, to window displays. Even today he can’t resist the impulse to spend an entire morning on the windows of one of his many boutiques.
In 1965 Nino Cerruti noticed his talent and hired him to redesign his Hitman line. By this time already precise and meticulous, Armani learned the importance of fabrics, both for their creative possibilities and for the economic value of even one inch of material saved in the cost of a garment. He began to design clothes in a way that would afford economies of scale manufacturing. He spent seven years at Cerruti, selecting fabrics that were lighter, colors that were colder, making everything less structured, changing buttons, and narrowing the shoulders. He did this to give the men’s jacket, up to that time a formal and stiff garment, a supple and real-life look, youthful for all ages. It was the 1970s, and the fashion world, on both sides of the Atlantic, adored the early Made in Italy lines, while new social classes were ready for the idea that one needs good clothes in order to emphasize personal success.
Sergio Galeotti, a young man from Viareggio who had just left an architecture studio to become a model buyer, realized that Armani couldn’t remain a designer who worked for others, but had to have a collection of his own. Cautious and somewhat distracted, Armani took two years to convince himself, in 1973, to open his own consulting business with Galeotti in Milan, while still working for various firms including Gibò and Montedoro to Tendresse, Courslande and Sicons. He quickly entered his name in the final fashion shows at Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Scarcely a year later, in 1974, his first men’s Collection came out, then in 1975, the first women’s Collection.
Giorgio Armani’s Company is Born
It was such a triumph that in 1976 the Giorgio Armani company was born. Galeotti conceived the company’s structure: no in-house manufacturing, only the production of ideas. The formula was reaffirmed in 1978 in the agreement with GFT, the first to make possible high fashion prêt-à-porter produced in a factory but under the close eye of the designer. Very soon, Armani’s shows became the most anticipated, both for the clothes and for the decor. The farsightedness of the new griffe was constant, guided by the notion that young people especially would be the consumers of fashion, as long as it remained affordable and did not lose its appeal. Very quickly in comparison with other lines, Emporio Armani became a reality.
The eagle became for young men a sign of belonging to a new style of dressing and of being; a loose-fitting, agile, less solemn look attractive to women. Armani’s fame grew quickly. In 1981, annoyed by polemics over a Collection inspired by ancient Japanese costumes, following some of Kurosawa’s films, he decided to stay away from the fashion shows for a season, and Time Magazine, finding the protest explosive, put his picture on the cover. In 1982 the turnover tripled. Meanwhile, his consulting services were requested by Mario Valentino, for his collection of leather goods, by Erreuno, and by licensees wanting to use his trademark, such as Bagutta for men’s shirts, Hilton for cloaks, and Allegri for raincoats. His unmistakable and ever-varied touch lights up a decade of work, while his fundamental research in high fashion prêt-à-porter leads to results of such refinement that they can no longer be produced in a factory.
Partner Galeotti Passes Away
In 1983 Armani changed his agreement with GFT, which from that point on would produce a new line, Mani, intended essentially for the U.S, while high fashion prêt-à-porter would use the label Borgonuovo 21, the street in Milan where he restored and rented the palazzo that once belonged to Franco Marinotti (Snia Viscosa) and the cotton manufacturers Riva. Shows are mounted in a 513-seat theater that once was the ballroom and swimming pool. Galeotti was barely able to manage the showing of the Spring-Summer Collection for 1985 and would die in August of that very same year.
The second decade of activity finds Armani alone but poised, thanks to study and a strong will, to add to his great achievements a real revolution in women’s clothing. The world was changing and women no longer needed to camouflage themselves, or to hide their bodies in the looseness of a perfect jacket.
Analyzing the stylistic development over what is by now 25 years of activity, certain constants emerge and some variations from his characteristic rigor can be seen. The taste and logic of his first revolution are never diminished, either in the men’s or the women’s collections, with their mutual exchanges of particular elements not only in terms of shape and cut, but also in the selection of interchangeable colors, in their materials, in a masculine appearance, a loose and soft hand or, viceversa, in shirts and jackets with a female touch for a man of a disconcerting freedom.
Loved by the elite and by mass consumers, adored by the critics, Armani was three times awarded the Occhio d’Oro in Italy for the Season’s Best Collection, and has received many honors throughout the world. He dressed Catherine Deneuve in Speriamo che sia femmina, Richard Gere in American Gigolo and provided costumes for the Strauss opera Elektra at La Scala, directed by Luca Ronconi with stage-designs by Gae Aulenti.
The George Sand of Spring 1976, in the winter of that year wore tweed jackets with a bold pattern, very masculine, but accompanied by a plissé skirt which, like trousers, allowed a loose and long stride. In Spring 1977 there were two skirts, overlapping, while the men’s jacket took on sophisticated accents, and the idea of “doubling” passed to men’s clothing as well, when a knitted jacket was put over a blazer. The jacket was destined to join every other element of clothing.
Then, in 1978 it went with a bathing suit, and in the fall Armani combined it with military colors. There was continuous research into everything to do with the shoulders, and the result was a “Garbo” long-wearing even in crêpe de chine. But the evolution of the jacket in 1983 was based on three items: the blazer in black velvet, the long-sleeve jacket with round shoulders, and the caban of Andean origin. There were few trousers and, instead, many varieties of culottes in very new tromp–l’oeil designs. The jacket was transformed, becoming an interchangeable item or a piece to be combined freely.
In 1984 there was a return to the taste for a men’s wardrobe with a hint of the feminine, an androgynous collection like no other. But the following year, for the Autumn-Winter Collection, Armani showed his sweet side, presenting a masculine jacket, but loose and down buttoned, for an easy-going woman with hair up and a neckless blouse. It was a show with 350 different fabrics varying in shades of blue, grey, and brown.
In October 1985 the Spring-Summer Collection won extraordinary success with its ethereal, stylized woman, her legs covered by very clear stockings and completely in view, wearing high heels. It was a femininity somewhat difficult and yet in some ways too much on display. It was a change in Armani’s usually sober look. The jacket is always the clue to understanding a style, but new suggestions came from the princess dresses in printed silk.
The novelty of the Autumn-Winter 1986 Collection was the evening dress. Armani’s woman, a mix of seduction and common sense, could count on an Armani universe: from perfume to timeless high fashion prêt-à-porter, similar to himself with minimal change, from writing paper to lamps, in a line that was more free and well-developed in the various aspects of its diffusion, the Emporio line.
In 1986 evening wear out-did day clothes, according to the demands of the American market. The Armani woman, self-confident and without nostalgia, chose a jacket that was no longer rigid and severe, breaking the rules of jacket-and-blouse in favor of daring new combinations (1987). From then on in 1988, the Autumn-Winter Collection was characterized by an atmosphere that was soft and light in color, and by the subtle provocation of a jacket resting on the waist and the hips, with long, double skirts.
In 1990 once again the jacket was the focal point, slim, wrapped, with small shoulders and a marked waist. The skirts were short or to the calf, the trousers sometimes straight and severe or else full like a man’s. It was a choice of dusty, sharp colours, though tempered by the greys and sandy earth tones typical of the Armani palette. In addition, there were the great envelopping overcoats such as the Tunisian djellaba.
In 1992 smoking was the season’s trademark, variously interpreted in combination with extremely feminine fabrics and details. New flexibilities, new concessions, very new luxury. Elegant fabrics used in casual clothes was a special characteristic of 1994, enhanced by a color palette in ruby inspired by Matisse. Waistcoats peep out under jackets; trousers are as long as they can be, and long skirts trimmed with fringes take center stage. Evening dresses display an imperious elegance in their colors and precious fabrics, yet with shapes reduced to the essentials.
The Autumn-Winter 1996 Collections showed great refinement and a love for structure which revealed itself in the ankle-length overcoats with velvet facings and matelassé lining. The repeated and refined use of fabrics cut on-the-bias, caressing the body, is more popular than ever. Also the favorites of the evening, from the “boldinian” style dress in silk velvet tied at the neck by a necklace of roses, to the sheath dress in black stretch tulle with tatoo embroidery.
The year 1997 saw the arrival of “sophisticated grege,” a new shade between grey and beige. Lean shapes, small proportions, a symbolic simplicity. Refined fabrics such as plissé wools, matelassé, and double crêpe. For the evening, everything is precious: graphic embroidery in ivory, ebony, lace, and velvet. The style is by now more and more defined and authoritative. It doesn’t change. What do change are the methods, the movements, and the details, with greatest importance given to refinement in materials and the finishing touches of master tailoring, which combined to make sophistication the main idea of the season.
During 1998-1999 evening is more and more the singular moment, with embroidered dresses inspired by oriental porcelains. The jackets, slim, without lapels, and with fastenings that are hidden and often on the side, have lost the connection with tailored suits and are worn even with long dresses, low-waist trousers, and long, straight skirts in order to accentuate the silhouette. And there are plenty of dustcoats, a series of overcoats cut like jackets, which are long and slinky.
In September of 1999 Giorgio Armani SpA opened the accessories division, with the goal of improving their results in leather goods. Dawn Mello & Associates entrusted with the account for the new division. The commercial structure of the Group (direct and franchising), operating in 33 countries, includes 53 Giorgio Armani Boutiques, 6 Collezioni stores, 129 Emporio Armani, 48 A/X Armani Exchange, and 4 Armani Jeans.
2000 – 2005
For 2000 the image is strong, consistent, glamorous, pure, and precise. The collection is love at first sight with English pastel shades and a special regard for black. Ankle-length skirts, short jackets with wide kimono sleeves, jackets cut like Indian blouses, slim trousers under tunics and extra-large trousers with a man’s shirt. A refined evening with the new idea of “light catchers” made of stretch tulle worked in the shape of a web, with a deliberately consistent choice of clear and sharp lines on the body.
The Armaniwoman entered the third millennium with an allure that was modern and sparkling, with one eye on the use and management of style, and the other on the passions of the young. The Armani woman is always aware that the power of her own image lay in the unbeatable Armani style, with his special colors, a skillful line and expert cut. This is a woman gliding with lightness, grace and incomparable class, leaving behind her the inevitable strains of a modernism that is often coarse or simply too ugly. The latest Collection, already looking toward the new millennium, G.A. Man in Spring-Summer 2000, has reconfirmed the primary place Giorgio Armani in the men’s wear industry.
Femininity and romanticism: from these two words Armani’s new woman was born. The look came out for Winter 2001-2002 and evoked the emotion of a debutante’s ball with skirts of frilly tulle and handkerchiefs of organza cut on the bias worn with long pullovers inspired by the sea or with small tops. Graceful girls paraded past, as if dancing on pointe: “Ballet is the apotheosis of elegance”, said the designer. Everything was delicate and ethereal, seeming to hint at dreamy sensations. The show’s finale was memorable, with 30 real ballet dancers posing like those of Degas. It confirmed what had been seen in the previous season, with tailored pantsuits characterized by an unusual sweetness, a vague re-collection of the manager-woman. The soft mood was also more in evidence in the shows that followed. And the classic blazer? It adapted to the new trend and in Summer 2003 became longer, almost a tailcoat waving on a slender body. Unusual pieces broke the familiar rhythm of the ensembles, sensuality was all on edge without any exotic nostalgia or erotic aggression.
In Autumn-Winter 2003-2004 Armani again changed course. His designs gave the body a new outline, emphasizing it and caressing a waist made prominent by short and close-fitting jackets. Then, in a surprise, he pays tribute to women’s legs with triangular miniskirts and shorts, a gentle reinterpretation of the hot pants of the 1970s. It was a very stylish woman, almost dipped in ink, in the severity of black broken up by lines of white, for an evocative graphic effect. As usual, his clothes needed to be admired up close, for the sophisticated details and refined fabrics. It was like a heaven of embroidery. He lowered the age of the fashion-conscious, which the Emporio line accentuated through the impertinent and teasing style of the French tomboy, with everything made “short.” His men’s style was also updated, an image somewhere between reason and sentiment, the silent revolutionary of a new classicism that still observed the rules of comfort, particularly in his knitwear creations.
In January 2000 Giorgio Armani SpA raises its stake in Giorgio Armani Japan Co. Ltd., a joint venture founded in 1995, to 85% of the shares, leaving the remaining 15% to Itochu. Then, in February the birth of Armani Collezioni which brings together, in Europe and in Asia, the already-existing Giorgio Armani, Collezioni Uomo and Mani Donna. The new label is also introduced in the U.S., while the Mani Uomo line of suits and shirts remains solely in the American market. Later, in June the Armani Group purchases for 55 billion liras from GFT the manufacturing business of the men’s line Armani Collezioni as well as its distribution and sales in the U.S.
In July Armani Group and Zegna Group agree to create a joint venture (51% to Armani, 49% to Zegna) to manufacture and distribute the Armani Collezioni lines. The goal is to exploit to the maximum the potential of the Armani Collezioni Uomo brand throughout the world, and the Mani Uomo brand in the U.S., using the manufacturing and organizational skills of both groups.
New Store Openings
The opening of new stores continues. In October an Armani shop opens at via Manzoni 31, in Milan. Designed by Studio Gabellini Associates, in collaboration with Armani himself, the megastore has some 80,000 square feet on three floors. The 1,000 square foot basement is used to sell electronics, especially by Sony. On the ground floor are Emporio Donna, Emporio Uomo, Emporio Accessori, a space dedicated to perfumes, and Armani Jeans for men and women. On the second floor, in addition to the restaurant Nobu and to Armani Caffé there is Armani Casa. The year 2000 shows consolidated revenues of 2,002 billion liras, a 20% increase compared to 1999, a gross margin of 374 billion liras, a net consolidated profit of 235 billion liras, an 11% increase, and a net worth amounting to 618 billion liras.
In February 2001 the first Giorgio ArmaniAccessori boutique opens at via della Spiga 19, Milan. The boutique includes high-quality bags, shoes and leather goods. Later in May, Giorgio Armani SpA, already owner of 53.2% of the capital stock of Simint Spa, an Italian company listed on the Electronic Stock Exchange, announces a tender offer for the Simint common stock that it does not already own. The price offered per share is €6.2. The goal is to activate a process of internationalizing the production and marketing activities of Armani products within the companies of the Group. As of July, the result of the bid for Simint, is that 39.49% of Simint’s shares are added to the 53.24% already owned by the Armani Group, thus giving Armani control of 92.73% of the company.
Giorgio Armani in Japanese Market
In 2001, Giorgio Armani Japan, founded in 1987 as a joint venture with Itochu Corporation, reorganized its retail activities in Japan. The program entailed the reopening, after a thorough renovation, of the world’s largest Armani store, in a manner consistent with the image of the new Armani boutiques on via Sant’Andrea in Milan, on Place VendÂme in Paris, and in Kioi-cho, Tokyo. Then new Emporio Armani stores were opened in Marunouchi and Aoyama, and the Emporio Armani in Midosuji was renovated. The Japanese market ranked third in order of importance after the U.S. (34%) and Italy (15%). Giorgio Armani Japan distributes five lines belonging to the Armani Group: Giorgio Armani, Giorgio Armani Accessori, Armani Collezioni, Emporio Armani and Armani Jeans. The company manages 22 shops; 10 Giorgio Armani boutiques, 1 Armani Collezioni shop and 11 Emporio Armani. The Giorgio Armani and Armani Collezioni lines are also sold through the shop-within-a-shop formula.
In July of 2001 Roberto Pesaro was appointed Chief Operating Officer of Giorgio Armani Corporation. One month later, Armani opened its first boutique in Rusia, in Moscow at no. 1 Tretyakovsky Lane. It was the 33rd point-of-sale opened by Armani in the year 2001, resuming the strategy of expanding the exclusive retail network. Twenty shops were completely renovated. A new joint venture, Borgo 21, was created to develop the top line of the Armani brand.
The year ended with Consolidated revenues reached €1,272 million, an increase of 23% which included all the geographic areas and all the lines. The turnover was distributed as follows: Europe 45%, North America 28%, Asia-Pacific and rest of the world 27%. The net consolidated profit was €110 million, the net worth €122 million, with investments of €307 million.
In January 2002 Armani acquires 100% of Miss Deanna, a firm specialized the production of high quality knitwear. Then, in November the Armani-Chater House megastore in Hong Kong opened, with 30,000 square feet on three floors, second in size only to the one on via Manzoni in Milan. Meanwhile, Armani Group and Luxottica Group ended their licensing agreement for the production and distribution of glasses in the Giorgio Armani and Emporio Armani lines.
The yearly results showed growth in the main indicators. The consolidated turnover, €1,301 million, showed a 2.3% increase compared to 2001. The induced turnover, €1,691 million, grew 6.4%. There was considerable growth in Emporio Armani Watches, 24%, and in cosmetics, 11%. Profits before tax, €199 million, grew 9.7%. Also noteworthy were investments of €87 million, devoted, among other things, to the expansion of the distribution network (30 new stores and 16 renovations) and to the acquisition of manufacturing plants. Finally, the Group invested 10% of the induced turnover communications.
Licensing and Co-branding
In February 2003 the Group gave Sàfilo a long-term license for the production and worldwide distribution of the Giorgio Armani and Emporio Armani watch Collections. At the same time, the Group’s exclusive distribution network comprised 57 Giorgio Armani boutiques, 12 Armani Collezioni shops, 115 Emporio Armani shops, 66 A/X Armani Exchange shops, 10 Armani Jeans shops, 5 Armani Junior shops, and 12 Armani Casa shops, in 35 countries around the world.
Then, in June the Giorgio Armani boutique on via Condotti in Rome reopened after a total renovation. Armani himself worked on the restyling along with the architect Claudio Silvestrin. Also, Mercedes-Benz and Giorgio Armani entered into a joint venture for the creation of the Mercedes-Benz CLK Giorgio Armani Design Car. Armani said,
“Mercedes-Benz has achieved extraordinary fame for the quality, style and elegance of its cars. For me, it’s been very interesting to observe how similar our design philosophies and system of working are. This makes me think that in the future there will be more opportunities to carry out common projects which can develop our respective strengths.”
In October, John Hooks was appointed the new President of Giorgio Armani Japan and Giorgio Armani continued as commercial director of the group. Then, the third and largest of Armani’s multi-concept stores, the Armani/Funf-Hofe, was opened on Theatinerstrasse in Munich, joining in the Armani on via Manzoni in Milan and the Armani/Chater House in Hong Kong. The economic-financial results for 2003 were brilliant. The consolidated turnover €1,255 million grew 3% at constant exchange rates. The net profit of €134 million increased 14%. Also excellent was the increase in net worth which grew 149%, In 2002, it grew to €264 million. In the same year the company invested €38 million, mainly in distribution, with 30 new sales points opened and 11 restyled.
Armani Hospitality and Distribution Network Expansions
In February 2004, the Armani group diversified into luxury hotels. It signed with EMAAR Properties PJSC, the largest real estate company in the Middle East, a memo of understanding for the creation of Armani resorts and luxury hotels. The collaboration called for the opening of ten hotels and four resorts within seven years. The total investment was projected at about 1 billion dollars. EMAAR was to manage the construction and managerial aspects and Armani would be responsible for style and design. In March, the company signed a multi-year license agreement with Wolford AG for the production and worldwide distribution of the Giorgio Armani hosiery line. Later in April. The fourth multi-concept store was opened in the Three on the Bund, Shanghai. Followed by an Armani store opened in Dubai.
Later, in July Fortune Magazine published a list of the 25 most powerful men in European business. Giorgio Armani was the only Italian, ranked number 25. Then, in August New Emporio Armani stores opened in Riga and Shanghai, one month later a shop with the new Emporio Armani concept opened in Paris.
“The new design of the Emporio Armani in St. Germain belongs to a strategy aimed at strengthening and differentiating the various product lines and at creating an environment in which the store’s architecture lends support to the presentation of the Collections in a way that is modern and accessible to the clients.” Giorgio Armani.
In September an Armani Jeans shop opened in Corso di Porta Ticinese in Milan. It was designed by the architects Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas. An Armani Jeans Café was opened inside. Also, at the Armani boutique on Maidson Avenue, the model Eugenia Silva organized a charity sale for the benefit of the American Museum of Natural History. Meanwhile, Armani was given the Superstar Award at the Night of Stars Awards of Fashion Group International.
The year of 2004 closed with a turnover of €1,299 billion, an increase of 6.5% at constant exchange rates and 3.5% at current exchange rates. The net profit was €126 million, a slight decline -5.2% compared the previous year. The net worth was €397 million, an excellent increase of 50.3% over the €264 million of 2003. Investments were €50 million, of which €35 million was used for the opening of 16 new stores and the restyling of the existing ones.
The First Haute Couture Collection
In January 2005, the designer made his début in haute couture, presenting in Paris the first Giorgio Armani Privé Collection. Thirty-one clothes in pure Armani style, very precious and unique. This year also witnessed the company’s 30th anniversary, to celebratied anniversary and in honour of his historic friendship with actress Michelle Pfeiffer, Giorgio Armani commissions famous photographer Mario Testino to create a series of shots of the actress for the women’s spring/summer 2005 collection catalogue, which are signed by the designer.
In June 2005 Armani designed the uniforms of the crew of the Bribon, the new sailing ship of the King of Spain. The first quarter registered growth in direct sales in company-owned stores of 16% compared to the first quarter of 2004. In particular, sales in China increased 52%, in Japan 15%, in Europe 10%, and in the U.S. 3%. At the same month, a new single-brand Armani Casa store opened at via Manzoni, 37 in Milan.
Armani was appointed Designer of the Year by the Fashion Editors Club of Japan. Later, the Giorgio Armani retrospective exhibition moved from the Guggenheim to the Mori Art Museum of Tokyo. For the occasion, the men’s and women’s Collections of Autumn-Winter 2005-2006 were presented. The show was followed by the first presentation of Armani’s haute couture Collection. So far, the group had 4,700 workers, 13 production plants, 58 Giorgio Armani boutiques, 11 Armani Collezioni stores, 121 Emporio Armani stores, 70 A/X Armani Exchange stores, 12 AJ/Armani Jeans stores, 6 Armani Junior stores, 1 Giorgio Armani Accessories store, and 17 Armani Casa stores, distributed in 37 countries throughout the world. The group’s brand are: Giorgio Armani, Armani Collezioni, Emporio Armani, AJ/Armani Jeans, A/X Armani Exchange, Armani Junior and Armani Casa.
Armani Designs for English National Soccer Team
In May 2004 Armani dressed the English national soccer team for its tour of exhibition matches in the U.S. June. Armani designed the uniforms of the crew of the Bribon, the new sailing ship of the King of Spain.
Today Armani has five lines: Borgonuovo 21, G.A., Collezioni Mani, AX (basic fashions sold in the shop of the same name in the U.S.) and Armani Jeans, plus the linen, underwear and swimwear lines.
2005 until Now
Supporting Charity Events
During the World Economic Forum held in Davos in January, Armani announces its participation in (PRODUCT) RED, the revolutionary global initiative launched by Bono and Bobby Shriver to raise funds for the Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa. In support of RED, Armani designs its first two products for (Emporio Armani) RED, consisting of a pair of sunglasses and a watch. Moreover, the Emporio Armani women’s collection for spring/summer 2007 is presented at London fashion week instead of in Milan, during an exclusive fashion and music event that also celebrates the launch of the first Emporio Armani (PRODUCT) RED capsule collection. Alicia Keys, Andrea Bocelli, Beyoncé, Bono, 50 Cent and Leonardo DiCaprio are just some of the celebrities who take part in this presentation, which is called One Night Only. At the end of the year, Giorgio Armani receives the Leonardo 2006 Award from President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano, as an important representative of quality Italian products abroad.
Launch of Cosmetics Line
In 2007, Giorgio Armani launched Crema Nera, the first product of the skincare line, along with Attitude, the new fragrance for men and Diamonds. Emporio Armani’s new feminine scent, the advertising campaign for which features Beyoncé. The Giorgio Armani retrospective exhibition arrives in Milan at the Triennale Museum. Meanwhile, The Giorgio Armani Privé Spring/Summer 2007 runway moved to Los Angeles to coincide with the 79th Academy Awards. Giorgio Armani opens its fourth concept store worldwide in Ginza, Tokyo, called Armani/Ginza Tower.
New Stores in Asian Market
Next year, Giorgio Armani entered the Indian market with the first Giorgio Armani and Emporio Armani stores in New Delhi. Also, the first Emporio Armani stores are opened in Moscow and Beijing. On the other hand, in the Europe market, the largest Giorgio Armani boutique in the world opens in Milan on Via Montenapoleone, as well as the lauch of Emporio Armani e-commerce site in Europe, and the Emporio Armani Samsung Night Effect mobile phone. Emporio Armani Underwear for women is launched in the United States. Giorgio Armani becomes an honorary member of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum in New York during the opening of the exhibition Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy.
Collaborations and Licenses
2012, At the Cannes Film Festival, Giorgio Armani launches a one-year collaboration with J/P HRO (Haitian Relief Organization), which includes an exclusive media campaign in which the designer and Sean Penn pose together for the first time. During women’s Fashion Week, the designer opens Eccentrico at the Armani/Teatro in Milan, an exhibition of clothing and accessories from 1985 to 2012, which embodies a point of fusion between art, fashion and design. The Armani Group signs an exclusive license agreement with Luxottica for the design, production and worldwide distribution of the collections of sunglasses and prescription eyewear under the Giorgio Armani, Emporio Armani and A|X Armani Exchange brands. In collaboration with the Astas Holding/Bemes group, the completion of the project Maçka Residences is announced, which includes the development of an exclusive residential area in the centre of Istanbul.
One Night Only Series of Events
The same year also sees the celebration of the Armani Group’s 10-year anniversary in China, which is marked with an event: One Night Only Beijing. In 2013, Giorgio Armani continues the successful One Night Only series of events, first in Rome and then in New York, where on October 24, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaims it Giorgio Armani Day. The following year, Giorgio Armani presents One Night Only Paris.
Armani Designs for Team Italy
In 2013 Giorgio Armani also announces the continuation of the brand’s agreement with the Olympic Committee, confirming that Armani will be the Official Outfitter of Team Italy for the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014 and the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. And in May of 2014, Giorgio Armani continues his long-standing relationship with the world of international football announcing the collaboration with Bayern Munich to create the club’s official clothing.
Celebration of 40th Anniversary
2015 marks Giorgio Armani Group’s 40th anniversary, earlier in this year, Giorgio Armani launches New Normal, a continuing and concise collection that creates the ideal wardrobe for today’s woman, and that summarises 40 years of style that have defied the testo of time. Giorgio Armani has been nominated Special Ambassador for Expo Milano.
Later on 30th of April Armani continuing to celebrate with a big party involving 500 guests including VIPs, celebrities, authorities and the international press. The same day Armani/Silos, the large exhibition space dedicated to Giorgio Armani’s professional experience, opened its doors for the first time.
Exhibition at Armani Silos Milano
For this occasion, the Ministry of the Economic Development and Poste Italiane celebrate Giorgio Armani’s 40th anniversary and the opening of the Armani/Silos with the issuance of a dedicated stamp. October 1st marked the launch of Giorgio Armani’s book (published by Rizzoli New York) in which he recounts forty years of career, style, excitement and vision in the first person. The volume was presented to the public on September 28th, at the end of the Giorgio Armani show, by the famous English journalist Suzy Menkes.
In 2016 Giorgio Armani was awarded the “Collare d’oro al merito sportivo” (“Golden Collar for Sports Merit”) as a figure who has stood out for his contribution to the world of sports. On April 14th, Giorgio Armani traveled to Moscow for a series of events celebrating the presence of the Armani Group in Russia. After London 2012 and the Sochi Winter Olympics, the collaboration between Giorgio Armani and the Italian National Olympic Committee continued: EA7 Emporio Armani was, once again, the official outfitter of the Italian Olympic and Paralympic team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. In July, Giorgio Armani announced the creation of the Giorgio Armani Foundation to implement projects of public and social interest and to ensure that the Group’s governance assets are kept stable over time, in respect of and consistent with the principles at the basis of his activities as a designer and an entrepreneur.
In September, at Armani/Silos, “Emotions of the Athletic Body” was inaugurated, the photographic exhibition dedicated to celebrating sports and athletes, curated personally by the designer, drawing from the vast archives of photographs that he himself had commissioned over the years. In September in Paris, Giorgio Armani presents the Emporio Armani Womenswear SS17 collection for the first time during Paris Fashion Week. The two-year partnership between EA7 Emporio Armani and RCS Sport was announced for the Milano Marathon: the sportswear line will be the title & technical sponsor of the 17th annual marathon, which will take place in Milan. The exclusive club, Armani/Privé, was reopened with a completely renovated look.
In 2017 The Giorgio Armani Group announces the reorganization of its portfolio of brands. As from the Spring/Summer 2018 season, the brands will be Giorgio Armani, Emporio Armani and A|X Armani Exchange. Also, Emporio Armani is presented for the first time during London Fashion week for the Spring/Summer 2018 read-to-wear collection and reopened their newly renovated Bond Street store.
In 1954 Ada Masotti, a corset maker from Bologna, set up a lingerie production company and named it La Perla. Not having elastic fibers available, she focused on tailoring handmade pieces. During this time, female silhouettes were accentuated in fashion and her creations matched latest fashion trends. Ada Masotti’s motto was “never compromise on quality and innovation”.
The brand DNA is based on Leavers lacework (named after an English loom, of which only 1,200 examples remain in the world), Cornellyembroidery, macramé (embroidery on a fabric which is later destroyed), soutache (an ornamental braid applied by hand usually in fancy pattern); the frastaglio (traditional Florentine flat stitch working). La Perla gained exclusive worldwide rights to the production of the extremely elastic Lycra crépe-de-chine.
During the 60s there was a lot of change and rebellion going on around the world. The hippie movement was taking over the fashion world. Ada Masotti realized the changes and adapted the lingerie. So, La Perla launched more colorful creations including multi-colored floral, plaid and checked patterns.
Through the 70s, La Perla introduced more silk, lace and transparent lightness. Including the creation of the silk jersey triangle bra, which allowed more movement. In 1978, La Perla launched its stretch lace sets, mirroring fashion trends with its clinging dresses and natural flowing lines.
Ada Masotti also created La Perla Maison, a collection featuring a range of garments in pure silk satin with embroidered inserts and frastaglio finishing, a technique that to this day is carried out by hand by the artisans of the La Perla atelier.
Starting in the 80s, La Perla started its international expansion under the management of the second generation, Alberto Masotti, who became president. He is responsible for the company’s huge growth, with more than 20 brands, like La Perla, La Perla Studio, La Perla Ritmo, Malizia, Marvel, Occhiverdi, AnnaClub, Oceano, Aquasuit, Joelle, Grigio Perla (man wear), Grigio sport (man wear) and Baby.
Also, Alberto Masotti’s wife, Olga Masotti, was hired by Ada Masotti as a designer. Through the years the Masotti family redefined lingerie as a clothing accessory.
By 2001 La Perla offered a limited range of women’s clothing and was looking to expand. So, in September 2001 the brand débuted their new underwear and beachwear lines at Milano Moda Donna. To achieve its sales targets, the group created a new styling department and allocated investments in marketing and distribution. Shops were opened in Monaco, Moscow, and Chicago.
Also during 2001 a new Creative Coordinator was entrusted, Sigurd Steinunn, 35, from Iceland who previously worked with Calvin Klein and Tom Ford. Steinunn was supported by six designers and by Anna Masotti who, after graduating from Dams, was made Fashion Coordinator.
By the end of 2001, the company had a consolidated turnover of €235 million, 48% in the Italian market, 52% abroad. The company had 54 own-brand shops, 38 of which were abroad, and the workforce totaled 1,400 people, plus as many in the associated company. Also, the début of the new boutiques in Japan (Fukuoka), US (Costa Mesa, Chicago) and the web boutique, www.laperla.com.
In April 2002 Grigioperla Touch is the new men’s prêt-à-porter of La Perla, which made its début at Milano Moda Uomo. Then, in September an alliance was created between technology and fashion, and with Nylstar, a giant in technological innovation in the field of fibers and yarns. In addition to product innovation, the distribution network was further expanded through new own-brand shops, in addition to the 15 in Italy and 24 abroad. After the début in Madrid, La Perla also opened in Soho, New York. Later, in December, Alessandro Dell’Acqua, designer from Naples, became the new Creative Director of the prêt-à-porter lines. The year closed with a turnover of €250 million.
In November 2004 the company celebrated 50 years of business with an exhibition dedicated to the Bologna painter, Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665). The choice was dictated by the desire to pay tribute to female creativity. Also, for its 50th anniversary, the brand created a limited edition collection made with Valencienne lace, produced on the ancient mechanic looms of Calais, the most important Leavers lace centre in the world.
In 2007 the brand launched the iconic Cage bustier, worn by Victoria Beckham, for the Spice Girl reunion video “Headlines”.
In October 2008, Jeff Hansen, already owned 70% of the company, and acquired the remaining 30% from the Masotti family, becoming the unique owner of the brand. The renovation plans include to concentrate production into a single factory, enhance the style and development of the technical-stylistic laboratories, and return to producing the products La Perla is famous for, underwear and beachwear.
La Perla Purchased
2011 was an important year for the brand with a collaboration with designer Jean Paul Gaultier, and the incursion in the shapewear market. Later, in 2013, La Perla was purchased by Italian entrepreneur Silvio Scaglia and Pacific Global Management. Also, during this year the brand launched a Made to Measure service available at the brand’s most important flagships stores.
Through 2014 strategic changes took place, including a new conceptual store design developed with Italian architect Roberto Baiocchi. Also, a new creative turn headed by French art director Fabien Baron.
La Perlashowed its first Atelier Collection in Paris 2015, the runway took place at Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild. The pieces were made by hand and its elaboration took about 14 months, after the show the pieces were displayed at the Brands boutique in Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
In 2016 the shoe designer Julia Haart was named Creative Director, and debuted with the Spring/Summer 2017 collection in September 2016 at Milan Fashion week.
Currently, the brand is owned by Pacific Global Management, overseen by Chairman, Silvio Scaglia, and Creative Director Julia Haart. The current muse is Kendall Jenner who appears in all their campaigns. The company continues to live by the founder Ada Masotti’s motto, “Never compromise on quality and innovation”.