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Armani Exhibit Comes Home to Milan

After seven years and stops in New York, Bilbao, Berlin, London, Rome, Tokyo, and Shanghai, Giorgio Armani's retrospective ...

MILAN — After seven years and stops in New York, Bilbao, Berlin, London, Rome, Tokyo, and Shanghai, Giorgio Armani’s retrospective exhibition has finally come home and will be staged at Milan’s contemporary art and design museum, the Triennale, through April 1.

The Milan run, which opened today, is slightly expanded compared with the other venues, with more than 600 outfits designed by Armani over the past 30 years on display. “Each city was special, Shanghai was very touching and exciting, the Guggenheim was the most difficult location for its depth and effects of light,” said Armani before his signature line show on Monday. “The Triennale space is exceptional and the advantage compared with the other venues is that there are an additional 16 square feet — this means a lot.”

Once again, theater director and visual artist Robert Wilson created a site-specific installation, dividing the Triennale’s spaces in straight lines and curves.

“Giorgio Armani and I share the same aesthetic sense. I admire the simplicity of his forms, his sense for detail, and his color palette,” said Wilson. “Whether it be a line drawn by Matisse, by a designer, or by a classical ballerina, the line is always the same. In short, there are only two types: a straight line or a curve. The architectural construction of his lines confirms what I do as an artist.”

To wit, the ground floor focuses around a central core, where the clothes are displayed in “an intentionally chaotic” way, while the first floor is a sequential and linear exhibit. As was the case with previous venues, the clothes are arranged thematically rather than chronologically. Themes cover such areas as the “greige” noncolor group, focusing on the designer’s iconic beige and gray garments, or the East-meets-West group, with Asian or ethnic touches.

Armani has updated the section dedicated to his relationship with Hollywood, with recent clothes worn by Beyoncé Knowles, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron and Ashley Judd to name a few. These and other items are presented on a red lacquered carpet, with images from “American Gigolo,” “The Untouchables” or “De Lovely” flashing in the background. Swarovski, which partnered with Armani to support the exhibition, worked with him to create a new diamond leaf crystal. The designer unveiled an evening gown embroidered with the new crystal in a dedicated area of the exhibition.

This story first appeared in the February 20, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“Each garment is individually lit so that we can focus our eye, so that we can see the detail. I think that’s one of the keys for me of Armani’s work — it is the attention to the details,” Wilson said, during a press conference held to present the exhibition on Monday. Armani, who was also at the event, said the Milan exhibition “concludes an important cycle of my life.” The designer then clarified “this concludes a cycle of a traveling exhibit — that it is. I don’t want to stop. No!” Pressed by journalists to discuss the future of his company, Armani said he had no plans to sell.

Once the retrospective closes, the designer said that he plans to set up a permanent exhibition of his clothes in his Via Bergognone headquarters.