By  on January 31, 2005

When it comes to wardrobing Hollywood, the old adage might as well go “lights, camera, Armani.”

No fashion designer can claim greater dominance than Giorgio Armani. His costume credits are now past the 300 mark and counting, from suiting up a single character as he famously did in his first film 25 years ago, dressing Richard Gere in “American Gigolo,” to providing much of the wardrobe for last year’s Cole Porter biopic “De-Lovely,” or the eyewear for the Oscar-nominated “The Aviator.” 

While Fred Hayman and other Beverly Hills retailers made sure through the late Sixties on that their star clientele had access to runway looks from Paris and New York, no reporter ever begged, “Who are you wearing?” until nearly two decades later, when Armani, having become the source for the power suit among agents and directors, caught on among their Oscar-bound clients such as Jodie Foster and Michelle Pfeiffer. “Armani has always understood Hollywood,” said Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein last week. “His clothes are the essence of elegance and sophistication.” 

Since Armani’s decision in the mid-Eighties to dedicate resources — and in 1988, an office — to dressing Hollywood, the red carpet has become a spectator sport of global proportions. Celebrity has spawned new media and fashion diversions, and our collective obsession saved the Academy Awards show’s otherwise flagging TV ratings. Still, amid the hoopla of celebrity dressing, where even the nail polish maker demands more airplay than an actor’s last film, Armani’s clothes remain a sober constant, a supporting role to the leading woman or man in them.

No wonder then, when Hayman (founder of the other Giorgio on the block) and his tony retail neighbors decided to create an award honoring those who have fostered the fashion-Hollywood coupling, Armani was the first recipient of the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style maquette. And, no surprise, the 2003 event was a veritable glam slam of A-listers, from Sophia Loren and Diane Keaton to Jessica Simpson and Outkast, as well as Gere, Pfeiffer and Foster.

“His clothes make you feel classy, elegant, sexy and smarter for having chosen to wear them,” said Pfeiffer, who was 23 when “Scarface” came out and she got the call saying Giorgio Armani was interested in loaning her looks. Today, she readily admits she hadn’t heard of the already widely known designer. “I was totally clueless when it came to fashion, and have pretty much remained that way. But thanks to him, it has gone pretty much undetected all these years.”

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