Giorgio Armani Nixes Joining Camera della Moda

Designer insists on total Italian unity.

Giorgio Armani is standing his ground. “Nothing has changed, and I am not joining the Camera,” said the designer after his Emporio Armani show on Monday. “It’s too easy to talk. I want more facts and less words.” A new board of the Italian Chamber of Fashion, which includes entrepreneurs such as Patrizio Bertelli, Diego Della Valle and Gildo Zegna, has been working on relaunching Milan Fashion Week, urging Armani and Dolce & Gabbana to become members of the association. Armani has responded that he would accept only on the condition that every Italian brand show in Milan.

This story first appeared in the June 25, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Speaking to a group of reporters at his show theater, Armani touted Milan’s ready-to-wear fashion, comparing it with that of London and Paris. “We are better in terms of fashion, and I’m speaking about clothes, not bags, but we didn’t have the balls to stand up for a longer show week and needed someone to do it for us,” he said. “When the papers talk about somebody [Italian] showing in Paris, it doesn’t sit well with me. Why should we bring luster to other markets?”

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Asked if he could be more open to a dialogue, he responded, “Are the French open? Are the English open? Are the Americans open, with that signora?” It was unclear whom Armani was referring to, but in the past the designer has spared no words in his criticism of Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour and her attempts to truncate the Milan Fashion Week schedule. Armani most recently criticized Wintour earlier this month for “forcing” Italian designers to “change our schedules. How dare she, with such an industry and all the production we have here?”

Armani explained that from his point of view, there will “never be an honest dialogue [within and with the Chamber] because there is too much competition,” and defined “real facts” — a protest that took place last week in front of a Zara store to bring attention to the crippling competition of low-cost countries, dumping measures and unlawful working conditions around the world, in addition to the suicide of a number of Italian entrepreneurs and producers here. “The rest is nothing,” said Armani.

Reminded that other designers are investing financially in the revamp of the Camera, Armani firmly responded: “I’ve opened my wallet for years.” Asked for his reaction if Miu Miu, for example, did return to show in Milan, he said, “It would be a step in the right direction.” The designer in the past has criticized Miu Miu and Valentino for showing in Paris rather than in Milan.

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In terms of business, the designer said he was “quite happy” with the performance of the first six months of the year, which have shown double-digit growth. He pointed to Europe and the Far East as the markets with the biggest demand for men’s wear.

Armani’s comments about the Camera were in sharp contrast to those made Sunday by Mario Boselli, head of the group, at a press conference for international journalists at the Four Seasons in Milan. Asked about the possibility of Armani joining the organization, Boselli said the designer had set two conditions. He did not specify them, but claimed one of the conditions had already been met “and we are close to resolving the second.”