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The Empire: Emporio Armani

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At a time when other luxury brands seem to be revised or redefined with every new creative director or shift in the cultural conversation, designer Giorgio Armani has remained faithful to his own brand DNA.

“From a creative point of view, Emporio Armani allows me to freely explore a variety of contemporary solutions while maintaining my own style,” the designer says. “There is an element of lightheartedness and vitality to it, but also a special sophisticated allure and dignity.” This is the essence of Emporio Armani: it’s impeccably polished but always imbued with a fearless imagination and playfulness. 
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When Armani (now 83) speaks about his designs (more than 40 years after he founded the brand with his late business partner and lifelong friend Sergio Galeotti) it is clear that his lust for life – and for his work – has not faded. For his latest Emporio Armani collection, he focused on “the fresh, pop character of the suit, with a hint of playful irreverence, creating pieces that can be worn at any time of the day.” The result, he says, is “a range of dynamic garments, perfectly cut and with a special, vibrant allure.”

Instead of revising, Mr Armani has been in the process of further refining his brand portfolio over the past year and, with the spring 2018 fashion season, the Armani Collezioni and Armani Jeans lines have merged to live united under the Emporio Armani name. The decision reflects the designer’s original vision for his empire: to build an emporium for shoppers. “Customers want to enjoy the shopping experience,” he toldWWD last year when announcing the change, which can be viewed as a move to safeguard the business within a sometimes economically precarious industry climate. For Mr Armani, it’s about putting the customer first. “Their request is to be entertained,” he said. “We should keep in mind the meaning of the name Emporio... It should be an emporium.”
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The integration of the separate lines into one Emporio Armani brand (which now sits between the Giorgio Armani and Armani Exchange lines) also suggests some self-reflection on Mr Armani’s part – consideration of what he has built and, indeed, what is still evolving. The eagle logo featured throughout the Emporio and Giorgio Armani lines, for example, has become part of fashion’s visual lexicon – an elegant signifier of a fearless outlook that is constantly pushing for excellence and is continually reinterpreted in new ways. “The eagle is a strong, assertive, masculine symbol,” says Mr Armani. “It creates belonging because it’s immediately recognisable.” Over the years it has been printed and sewn onto everything from casual cotton T-shirts and hats to oversized blazers and all manner of accesories. This season it sits proudly on a gauzy V-neck T-shirt. “I wanted a pop, playful, feminine and spirited version of the symbol in pastel colours and in the shape of a bag, or as an appliqué on an organza T-shirt, to show its endless versatility.”

While Armani does have this unwavering clarity about himself – and his brand – he is no egomaniac. As he has said: “The essence of style is a simple way of saying something complex.” It is precisely this perfect marriage of simplicity and nuance that defines the Armani name – and what is more stylish than that?