By  on June 27, 2008

MILAN — E-mails and text messages are the rage, but Giorgio Armani is adding a collection of limited edition pens to its accessories lines.

"A handwritten note is today more than ever a sign of etiquette, elegance and sophistication," the designer said. "To carry an iconic pen is therefore a symbol of character and style."

In this venture, Armani turned to Italian pen maker Tibaldi, which was founded in 1916 and still uses 16th-century techniques to create writing instruments.

The first series of the Giorgio Armani Pens line is the Regal Collection, limited to 199 numbered pieces. It is available starting this month at the designer's signature brand boutiques and Tibaldi authorized pen dealers.

The writing instruments are presented in either a natural or ruthenium-plated sterling silver trim and will be sold individually or in special edition complete sets as part of a deluxe package featuring ink, envelopes and special Giorgio Armani letterhead set in a handcrafted black lacquered box. Retail prices start at 2,000 euros, or $2,922 at current exchange.

The designer's initials embellish the end of the pen's cap as well as each fountain pen's rhodium and ruthenium plated solid 18-karat gold nib. The pens will be presented in roller-ball, ballpoint and traditional fountain models. Armani underscored the craftsmanship behind the pens, as artisans turn each piece by hand to infuse its barrel with nine layers of translucent enamel creating a novel rippled effect.

In a separate development, Armani said he is designing new residence apartments in Rome in a former convent. The project will be completed in a year. The designer and Emaar Properties are rolling out hotels in Dubai next year, followed by Milan and other key locations around the world, in addition to private apartments, decorated with exclusive Armani Casa home furnishings.

Armani also is making headway with his new offices in the hip Via Bergognone area that will house a gallery and museum lodging pieces from the retrospective that traveled the world starting in 2000. Once again, Armani turned to architect Tadao Ando for a part of the building that will comprise a covered piazza with an origamilike canopy. Armani plans to hold runway shows, events and exhibitions in the piazza, which is expected to be completed in two years.

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