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Armani’s Days in the Sun

To celebrate 20 years in a market that has become quite competitive, last week Armani lured a crowd of fashionistas and Italian celebrities to his Armani...

An archival shot of Giorgio Armani and Eric Clapton.

MILAN — To celebrate 20 years in a market that has become quite competitive, last week Armani lured a crowd of fashionistas and Italian celebrities to his Armani Privé space here, where he showed a retrospective photographic exhibition of eyewear ad images from the past two decades.

This story first appeared in the May 19, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Armani pioneered designer eyewear back in 1988, when he signed a licensing deal with Luxottica. His first collection of Thirties-inspired oval frames in tortoiseshell acetate not only charted a new course for designer brand extension but grew into a $300 million business.

In 2003, Armani switched his license to Safilo Group.

The photos and product on display in the exhibit included a smiling portrait of the designer, who promoted his frames in fall 2003 with a black-and-white image by David McKnight and two new limited edition replicas — just 1,020 will be produced — of Armani’s first designs called Anniversary Exclusive Editions.

One is a rendition of the GA 634 model launched in 1989, the GA 646 style has thin, sinuous arms and a chiseled bridge with micro decorations.