By  on January 24, 2005

MILAN — “I’m used to challenges,” Giorgio Armani says of his latest endeavor, the Armani Privé couture collection he will show in Paris today.“After all, I’ve done accessories, the home collection, special fragrances and jewelry. This [Armani Privé couture] is something that I’ve been considering for some time, because it’s silly to make a beautiful, important dress that doesn’t sell because the woman who wants it can’t find it in her size. There are a lot of women out there who don’t have perfect bodies or who maybe don’t want to show off their arms. This collection is for them.” With the 33 couture looks that Armani shows today in a modern Parisian loft, he will have closed the circle. A week before, in Milan, the designer offered WWD an exclusive preview. As he sweeps into a Milanese studio, the first finished Armani Privé gown — a layered silk jersey fishtail number decorated with Swarovski crystals and real microdiamonds — is being photographed.Invigorated by the undertaking, the designer walks onto the set, inspects the model with a clinical eye and beckons the makeup artists. “We need more drama. This line needs to be longer,” he says, pointing to the black eye pencil tracing the model’s eyes. Armani, who’s wearing a tiny diamond cross that sparkles against his tanned chest, says of the new collection, “To me, it’s an experiment, a very logical one. I wanted to respond to the real requirements of couture — creating clothing that can then be transformed into sizes that fit normal women, that make them more beautiful.”Once he decided to put the theory into practice, the process came together relatively fast. “In a day and a half, I chose all the fabrics,” Armani notes. “It’s a very, very, very spontaneous, instinctive collection, because I work so much better under pressure. When I’m relaxed, I don’t see things as vividly.”What he sees for couture is simple elegance revved up with glamorous details. “Every piece will have its own identity, with an embroidery in an unexpected place. I wasn’t looking for extravagance, or for anything spectacular. I just want women to look at it and say: ‘Hey, I can wear that!’ I think that you have to be creative with the actual piece of clothing rather than with the hair and makeup and the show. It’s the clothes that have to stand on their own.”Back at his Via Borgonuovo headquarters, Armani’s new seamstresses are working 24/7 to keep up with his fast and furious pace. “I bring them champagne all the time to make up for the stress and long hours,” the designer says, chuckling. Showing in Paris — the temple of couture — doesn’t faze Armani, who’s staying typically cool, calm and collected. “I tell my staff not to act as if we’re on a pedestal,” he says. “This is couture seen through my eyes, couture that reflects my way of thinking. But it’s routine for me because, after all, it’s business.”—with contribution from Samantha Conti

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