MILAN — Giorgio Armani was feeling feisty on Monday, taking on some of his favorite targets at his postshow press conference: Anna Wintour, other Italian designers and the Camera della Moda.
This story first appeared in the February 25, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
His combative mood appeared to be triggered by the noticeable absence of Vogue’s editor in chief from his front row earlier in the morning.
“There are some who prefer to snub the Giorgio Armani show and go to Paris,” he said. Although the designer didn’t name names, there was little mystery as to whom he was referring.
“She took an airplane, dumped Mr. Armani and went to Paris,” continued Armani, who, in the past, has strongly criticized Wintour, accusing her of attempting to truncate Milan Fashion Week’s schedule and forcing designers to change their show dates.
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According to Armani, Wintour’s absence was due to the fact that he is the only major designer to show on the last day of Milan Fashion Week.
“Anna has the greatest respect for Giorgio Armani and everything he has done for Italy and fashion worldwide,” Vogue communications director Hildy Kuryk told WWD later in the afternoon. “Unfortunately, with the fashion calendar now running for more than a month, there are some shows that Anna is not able to attend.”
“When we decided to show the last day, other big brands were involved. But currently this is an empty day,” Armani said, accusing the Italian Fashion Chamber of inefficiency. “Does this mean protecting the Italian fashion? Where is the Camera? I rejoined it but I can always exit again. I can just put in a phone call….”
Armani couldn’t rein in his anger, nor his disappointment. “Why should I always be the moron [translating from an Italian expletive] to be penalized because of a person, who, for better or for worse, like or dislike it, is powerful? I feel penalized,” he noted. “She said she was sending her people. But if you go to see your dentist and he puts you in the hands of his assistant, what’s your reaction? They told me ‘She went to see the Privé in Paris; she has no time to see the ready-to-wear in Milan.’ She is influential and powerful. But, perhaps, I’m influential as well.”
A possible solution to keep power people in Milan for the duration of the shows could be to “take turns in showing on the last day,” Armani suggested.
“This is not an option,” retorted Camera della Moda president Mario Boselli, reached by phone later in the day. “But we met Mr. Armani earlier and he is totally fine now. In a certain way, it’s right that the important journalists stay until the end of the week, and next season, we will try to guarantee the presence of other big brands the last day.”
Armani set the tone for the press conference from the moment he sat down, needling the competition with Italian journalists: “I wanted to bring an owl with me this morning,” a reference to Dolce & Gabbana’s collection, which featured looks decorated with nocturnal birds of prey.
Armani spared no words in criticizing other Italian brands’ approach to fashion. “I think that the exaltation of the idea that designers can be just completely free to express their fantasy is really dangerous,” he said. “I’m very happy that others do what they do. I respect my colleagues. I’m happy with what I do, but I feel like a black swan in doing clothes with a function and with an attention to the commercial aspect.
“It’s very easy to do a V-neck dress with a bold print. It’s more difficult to make a suit or a jacket look new. It’s easier to freewheel,” he continued, in what appeared to be a veiled reference to this season’s Prada collection.
According to Armani, focusing on pure creativity and setting aside the business vision, Italy’s fashion companies cannot insist on receiving concrete help by the nation’s government institutions.
“Nobody is courageous enough to say that if the fashion industry wants to be supported by the Italian government, we have to offer a product which is not only smoke and mirrors but that has a functionality and can bring economic results,” he said. “Otherwise, fashion loses its credibility.
“We should talk about economy, competition. Others are copying us,” Armani pointed out, mentioning the case of “a store on Via Montenapoleone, which sells the same clothes I did 10 years ago.” The designer confirmed to journalists at the press conference that he was referring to Giada, a Chinese-backed Italian fashion label.