Grace Jones’s power dressing and how Basquiat refused to paint in anything but an Armani suit – this is how the designer’s work infiltrated music, art and cinema
There are those who say that age is just a number, but there is no denying that being a brand with 40 years of history and still boasting one of the most recognisable names in fashion is no easy feat. Acclaimed as one of Italy’s number one designers and credited for the invention of red carpet fashion, as well as the reinvention the more casual yet slick business wear that defined the 80s, Giorgio Armani is a name that carries weight no matter where you’re from. He’s already marked the brand’s birthday year by opening the Armani/Silos exhibition space, a public gallery in Milan dedicated to some of his most iconic creations and showcasing a digital archive of sketches and other research, but to celebrate the anniversary, here are four of our favourite Armani cult crossovers.
BASQUIAT AND HIS SUITS
Jean-Michel Basquiat was a neo-expressionist icon that marked a generation of New York artists for his poignant criticism on racism, colonialism and classism in the U.S. during the 1980s. And he was also an icon when it came to personal style, becoming known to wear Armani suits to paint his masterful creations riddled with dichotomy, and then hit the town in the paint-splattered suits to hang out with the likes of Andy Warhol and Keith Haring.
Giorgio Armani is no stranger to creating clothing for film – from Batman’s Bruce Wayne to The Wolf of Wall Street, his clean-cut suits hailed as icons of style are often seen on the backs of the industries’ favorite villains and heroes. There are those who connect all of this back to his iconic take on the suit for the 80s flick American Gigolo starring Richard Gere as the narcissistic – but well dressed – male escort who gets entangled in a murder case.
NIGHTCLUBBING WITH GRACE JONES
Although Armani became known for deconstructing the suit, removing the over-the-top padding and offering a relaxed option to formalwear in American Gigolo, the cover for Grace Jones’ iconic 1981 album Nightclubbing plays up with the angles like nothing else before it. Hailed as a pioneer of the androgynous look, with a cigarette dangling from her mouth and a flattop haircut, complimented by the padded shoulders of an Armani jacket, the avant-garde singer’s album cover became known for years to come.
DREAMS OF SPACE TRAVEL
Dipping his toe into the ever-expanding and multifaceted world of sci-fi like Jean-Paul Gaultier did in The Fifth Element, Giorgio Armani created the manicured attire for the eugenics-led world of the future of Gattaca (1997). The film, portraying the struggles of a man conceived outside of genetic manipulation to achieve his dream of travelling to space, with a plot fuelled by murder (and Jude Law) has gained a cult following, and Armani’s slick creations add to this eerie scenario of genetic perfection.
Watch a film featuring the new Armani/Silos space below: