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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.

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.