It’s no secret that ever since the founding of his label in 1975, Giorgio Armani has afforded men and women an elegant and sophisticated version of the suit. In fact, one of the first defining moments in Armani history was the launch of an unlined and unconstructed man’s jacket. Completely loose and informal, the blazer offered sensual hints of the body beneath, marking a major departure from, on the one hand, the stuffy suits that straitjacketed men in the 1960s, and, on the other, the sartorial abandon of the hippie generation.
The rumpled jacket was an immediate success, and a new breed of tailoring was born. “My vision was clear: I believed in getting rid of the artifice of clothing. I believed in neutral colors” Mr. Armani has said about the jacket.
The suits came out at a time when working women were trying to figure out what to wear in offices. The first ‘power suit’ appeared in Vogue in Sept. 1976, according to the magazine’s online encyclopedia, Voguepedia, in a 14-page fashion spread showing more than a dozen suits for work. Former Vogue editor-in-chief Grace Mirabella said “Style without excessive design. Armani dresses busy women who can’t be occupied with themselves.”
In the 1980s, the exquisitely tailored Armani “power suit” for men and women came to symbolize an era of international economic boom. With broad padded shoulders and widened lapels, the look was inspired by the glamour of 1940s Hollywood. In fact, a whole concept of masculinity in fashion has been defined by it. Paul Schrader’s film American Gigolo (1980) exemplified this trademark combination of power and sensuality with the now-famous scene in which Richard Gere pulls from his closet and dances with an extravagance of shirts, jackets, and ties as he chooses the perfect ensemble.
Power once, and power now, are very different.GIORGIO ARMANI
And for women wanting to convey substance and authority, Armani suits became something of to a uniform. Actress Glenn Close first wandered into Armani’s Madison Avenue boutique while shopping for clothes to promote the film “The World According to Garp.” Seduced by a black double-breasted jacket “it was the most serious piece I’d ever bought,” Ms. Close said. Ms. Close went on to wear Armani to meet President Ronald Reagan for the Kennedy Center Honors, to accept her Oscar nomination for “Fatal Attraction,” and to give an honorary Oscar to Deborah Kerr. “I’m an unadorned person,” Ms. Close said. “I wasn’t consciously creating an image. I was choosing clothes that I felt comfortable in.”
From the resolute silhouette of the 80’s defined by a large and broad shoulder to the modernisation of the deconstructed suit jacket with it’s slimmer silhouette, Giorgio Armani has stayed synonymous with the suit “The suit has always been an important aspect of my business, and researching shapes and materials is an on-going aspect of my work.”. In 1994 Vogue named the Armani jacket one of the ‘four classic must-haves for every woman’ alongside the Chanel suit, the Hermes Kelly bag and a pair of Manolo Blahnik pumps.
Even if the broad shoulders of the 80’s have been gone for quite a while, ‘Power Dressing’ never left. But “Power once, and power now, are very different,” Mr. Armani said during a recent interview in Paris. “Now power can be feminine. The new power suit is the confidence you have in yourself. The clothes just accentuate that”.