Although the economy nose-dived after Giorgio Armani committed to open a 43,000-square-foot Manhattan flagship on Fifth Avenue, he proceeded to unveil it with tasteful fanfare. And if that wasn’t gracious enough, he embraced New York by donating $1 million to The Fund for Public Schools.
The grant will establish the Armani Arts Institute, which will support arts programs in public schools in underserved neighborhoods, particularly the Bronx, the borough that gave us Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. Armani was said to have taken the subway to the Bronx before he made the announcement in the presence of Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Caroline Kennedy, vice chair of The Fund for Public Schools, and Joel Klein, chancellor of the New York City Department of Education. The legendary designer made the donation in lieu of throwing a big dinner, saying he didn’t think it was appropriate to use the store opening as an occasion for “caviar.”
Caviar or not, Armani’s celebrity friends Leonardo Dicaprio, Victoria Beckham, Liam Neeson, Alicia Keys, Josh Hartnett and John Mayer all showed up to give him a warm welcome.