“Sophia Loren said grazie to America when she received the Oscar; this is my way of saying merci to the first market to open up to my world.”
So says Giorgio Armani, referring to his new Armani/5th Avenue megaflagship that opens today — an immense store he called “very New York,” based inside a glass structure on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 56th Street.
The store imports the drama of the city to its interior, which is marked by a striking, sculptural grand staircase. It also brings Italy’s fashion giant to a part of Manhattan that is home to significant stores by some of Armani’s countrymen, including Gucci, Prada, Versace, Fendi, Bottega Veneta and, a few blocks down, Diesel, which is also opening today.
The Armani store’s design capitalizes on the corner location, and the glass structure offers views up Fifth Avenue, to Henri Bendel across the street, to Bergdorf Goodman and to Central Park a few blocks up. The location resonates with Armani on an emotional level.
“It is a very important location, next door to Bergdorf Goodman and Henri Bendel’s, which in the Seventies were my idols, so you can imagine how filled with emotion I am,” the designer said, sitting in a curved banquette in the store’s top floor restaurant on Monday. “At 75, I got to Fifth Avenue, across the street from those who were my idols in the Seventies.”
He recalled once having an area at Bergdorf’s “so small you could maybe only sell 10 dresses in there. And Bendel is the one store I looked at with so much attention because it was a small but very sophisticated store.”
Of course, much has changed since those days, and the designer’s 43,000-square-foot store is another symbol of the strength of his business. Although the global economy has nose-dived since the designer’s announcement to invest here a year ago, Armani has no regrets. That said, mirroring the gloomy times, he decided to nix a post-opening bash complete with a runway show and dinner, contributing the sum to a charity he plans to unveil at a press conference today. The press conference will be followed by a store opening party that is expected to attract Alicia Keys, Victoria Beckham, John Mayer, Josh Hartnett, Martin Scorcese and Emile Hirsch, among others.
“One must go on. [This store] is an act of courage and faith towards America, a country that has supported me from the very beginning,” he said. “I think an entrepreneur should demonstrate a certain degree of bravery, even in difficult times, and I certainly wasn’t going to change my plans.”
Armani declined to reveal how much the store cost, or first-year sales projections, but admitted, “It’ll take quite a few years to recuperate the costs. But I’m interested in making the store work.”
Armani knows well what the challenges are, describing fashion as “overly inflated and the expectations one has from it, excessive.”
“Every year, one feels the pressure of increasing sales by 20 percent but I’m not sure that’s right,” he said. “Maybe all one should do is find a stable positioning [in the market] and defend that position because otherwise you venture into a market that isn’t yours anymore. Everyone started doing everything lately and at the first signals of recession, the consumer says ‘Who needs another Armani bag?’”
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)