Giorgio Armani Talks Dressing The World’s Most Famous Women For The Red Carpet

As he collects a Fashion Award for Outstanding Achievement, the designer tells Kenya Hunt about dressing his favourite A-listers...

Armani's best looks

by Charlotte Pavitt |

What makes a legend? It’s a question Giorgio Armani, a man who has dressed a multitude of icons, uniquely understands. One of fashion’s last remaining great titans, he’s managed to invent power dressing, and pioneer the modern-day red carpet as we know it, during the 44 years he’s grown his eponymous business from Milan-born womenswear label to global empire.

Giorgio Armani Roberta niece
Giorgio Armani backstage with niece Roberta

As he accepts the Outstanding Achievement accolade at this week’s Fashion Awards – arguably the industry’s biggest party of the year – it seems only natural to reflect on the indelible impact he’s had on the look of event dressing. ‘The ’80s saw a huge amount of change in Hollywood, and the world in general,’ he says. ‘In the movie industry, young actors were rejecting the theatricality of the old Hollywood red carpet for a new naturalness.’ His niece Roberta is now a driving force behind the label’s close ties with Hollywood. ‘When my uncle first started his label, Hollywood and fashion were not entrenched,’ she explains. ‘For the glamorous events, Hollywood often collaborated with costume designers, who responded to the theatrical image of the star, and the outfits worn were part of projecting that image.’

Armani changed the aesthetic. ‘I became the go-to designer for this fresh approach,’ he says. Lauren Hutton, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Lady Gaga, Denzel Washington, Reese Witherspoon... countless legends have him to thank for some of their most iconic red carpet moments.

Here, he looks back on his favourites.

Gallery

Mr Armani's Most Iconic Red Carpet Moments

Diane Keaton, 1978
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Someone like Diane had a completely different idea of what the image of stardom should be – she wanted to be a relatable person first, a star second. You can see how Diane makes a tailored jacket – in a style normally associated with a man's suit – look thoroughly modern and individual. It's interesting to look back at this because, in 1978, all of us were adjusting how we thought of ourselves, socially and professionally. In particular, women were discovering a new voice as professionals. I found myself the designer credited with giving these women an appropriate wardrobe – something that could compete sartorially with what their male colleagues were wearing. Diane is channelling that spirit with this outfit.

Jodie Foster, 1992
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I'm very close to all the iconic actresses I have dressed. I have fond memories of Jodie, who I rescued from the worst-dressed list at the Oscars. For her second Oscar, she wore a tuxedo of mine, and she was considered one of the best dressed at the ceremony. It was fun putting an actress in a traditionally male style at an event where women usually wear dramatic and often overblown evening gowns. Even today, after more than 30 years, I still have the pleasure of dressing her for all important occasions.

Julia Roberts, 2004
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A red carpet at the Oscars that I remember with great pleasure was that of 2004, when I dressed Julia in a beautiful long dress inspired by the style of the legendary Katharine Hepburn. Julia is one of those people who simply exudes star quality, like an old-school Hollywood leading lady of the golden era. So I thought, why not create a dress that evokes a sense of timeless style, n updated traditional approach if you like, and let Julia's charisma – and that great smile – do all the talking?

Cate Blanchett, 2014
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Cate is one of today's most talented actresses, in both theatre and film. Her integrity and commitment to her work is reflected in the powerful intensity of her performances. In addition to her natural talent, she has an innate sense of style that makes her unique. That's why it's always an honour to dress her, because she is able to interpret my style in a natural and elegant way. One of the occasions on which I look back fondly is the 2014 Academy Awards: she was not only marvellous on the red carpet, but with her acceptance speech she also proved the power and glory of one of the greatest actresses in Hollywood today.

Nicole Kidman, 2018
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Besides being a very talented performer, Nicole is a charming and extremely beautiful woman. She has a great range as an actress, and has the peculiar ability of being able to appear both calm and passionate at the same time, which makes her very watchable. In person, on and off screen, she has an extremely elegant bearing, though this is never studied. There is a naturalness and freshness about her – I would go so far as to call it a radiance – that makes her shine without having to overdress. This blue satin dress with its prominent bow was designed to look chic and effortless, and mirrors the special character of the woman who is wearing it.

The Rules Of The Red Carpet, According To Armani

Roberta Armani, Head of entertainment and VIP relations, explains the must-have elements for any iconic evening look.

A Seasonless Approach

Armani Prive SS20

‘The Armani way, which I have had imprinted on my heart and soul by my uncle, is to look elegantly timeless.’

A Light Touch

Armani Prive SS20

‘Giorgio often quotes his mother, from whom he learned this maxim: if you want to create beauty, do only what is necessary and nothing more. This is the philosophy behind his design, and you see it in his red carpet looks.’

A Quiet Confidence

Armani Prive SS20

‘Glamour is about being stylish, restrained and engaging the observer’s imagination. [A look] should never be memorable for the wrong reason. An outfit should showcase the wearer’s personality and never be a disguise.'

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