By  on January 31, 2005

Modernity, reality and practicality have been the enduring touchstones of Giorgio Armani’s designs. In an industry where for many, a new season automatically means a new theme, this designer is stalwart in his consistency.

Though he has evolved through the years, he has stayed faithful to his commercial blockbuster aesthetic of sporty, clean, casual luxury. Typical of Armani’s philosophy: “We must always remember that the dress under the spotlight, worn by a fashionable model, ultimately must be transferable to the lady who comes into the store,” he said in 2000. “Otherwise it means little.” As a result of putting his clients first, they  have returned the favor by staying faithful to him.

With a taste for the tasteful, he has built a career on shades of beige, gray, black and white. Even when he embellishes for evening or adds splashes of color, it is always done with a controlled hand and an eye toward wearability. Early on, the designer found an affinity for the man’s suit, which he transformed into a chic, sexy uniform for the working woman many times, from the strong-shouldered power version of the Eighties to the slim, minimal form of the Nineties and onward to the fluid, sportif jacket and pants of today. Even at last week’s debut of his couture collection, Armani Privé, he kept it simple and stunning with just-right looks that won’t bring their red-carpet wearers the scorn of the press.

Still, for all his fierce pragmatism, an Armani show never lacks a touch of magic — whether from a faraway exotic reference or the brilliant star power of his front row.

Here, highlights from the first 30 years of Giorgio Armani. Photos from the WWD Archives.

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