Armani has been laying plans for the company’s future — admitting, candidly, that he is “afraid to die”.
“I know Giorgio Armani, the company, is identified with me, so it is my responsibility to make sure this will continue and that the company will have a footprint that will resemble il signor Armani,” he says.
In 2016 Armani set up the Giorgio Armani Foundation, designed to fund social projects and shield his group from a future takeover or breakup — a set-up similar to that of Swiss watchmaker Rolex. As part of his succession plan, the foundation will own an undisclosed stake in his fashion empire, with the rest going to his family. Nieces Roberta and Silvana Armani work for the group, while Andrea Camerana, his nephew, is a board member.
Pantaleo Dell’Orco, who heads the men’s style office and has worked with Armani for 46 years, is also taking on an increasingly important role within the company. He sits on the foundation’s board and is also poised to inherit a stake in the company. At a men’s show in 2021, Dell’Orco joined the designer for the customary end-of-show bow, a suggestion that he may one day succeed Armani as menswear designer. Silvana Armani, meanwhile, works with her uncle on the women’s collection.
Armani’s designs have evolved over the decades. The Venetian catwalk shimmered with black headpieces and ruffled harlequin-like collars, sequinned lozenge-patterned dresses, tops and trousers in a variety of unconventional colours.
Armani says he’s changed over time and he has accepted the evolution of fashion, but only to a certain extent. “At one point I knew I could either [stick to] my own style, or [give up as] I would have never adapted to the new trends.”
“Change is happening and I have also changed . . . the thing is that today’s designers draw inspiration from the past and it’s not like they are inventing anything unless they do a mattana,” a colloquial Italian expression to describe an erratic behaviour.