Leave it to Giorgio Armani to time the unveiling of his glitzy new Rodeo Drive boutique during Oscars week.
The red carpet maestro ushered in the era of high-stakes celebrity dressing when he dressed Jodie Foster in her striking champagne silk-faille kimono jacket and beaded pants for the 1992 Oscars.
Fun fact: He also dressed Laura Dern, Annette Bening and Anjelica Huston that night, but the costume was history, setting a new standard for red carpet style.
“I remember having [Foster] wearing that pantsuit, instead of the classic ballgown, was a challenge,” Armani said in an email interview. “But I believe it created an indelible image in the collective imagination.”
His Beverly Hills boutique, originally designed by Michael Chow, was a Los Angeles staple even before that, opening in August 1988 and catering to power players like the then Lakers coach, Pat Riley, revolutionary Hollywood executives Sherry Lansing and Dawn Steel, not to mention male stars like Richard Gere, who first cemented the brand’s name in pop culture.
“My breakthrough in American affairs was undoubtedly the deconstructed costume worn by Richard Gere in ‘American Gigolo’. But let’s not forget that I also dressed Lauren Hutton for some scenes in that film, with my female version of the gentle tailoring and a style very close to the pragmatic American sensibility,” Armani said.
With its outdoor patio, private elevator and on-site VIP box, the Rodeo Drive landmark is the powerhouse of the Armani celebrity machine, where nearly every star in the universe has gone for a fitting, from Glenn Close to Martin Scorsese to ‘Hacks’ star Hannah Einbinder and ‘The Power of the Dog’ actor Jesse Plemons, who wore Armani to the Critics Choice Awards last week.
And now, after nine months of renovations, it’s ready for another close-up.
From the street, the iconic facade with the GA logo, now flanked by two huge stencilled palm trees, almost looks like a marquee. “Palm trees are the symbol of Los Angeles and we deliberately chose to integrate them into the aesthetic of the store, with a solution that creates a shadow effect during the day and a graphic style silhouette at night,” said Armani on his favorite feature, linking the building to the natural surroundings.
Working with his in-house team of architects, he let the SoCal sunshine into the 9,100 square foot space, flooding it with light and replacing the austere Armani of yesteryear with a more modern and glamorous interior. .
Luxurious veined marble floors in various hues define the category spaces, with carpets, lamps and furniture by Armani/Casa, and twinkling LED screens showing clips from runway shows and campaigns.
The ground floor is home to women’s ready-to-wear, with spaces dedicated to the house’s chic PVC pumps, brightly colored Bauletto handbags and other accessories, for perfume, beauty and eyewear.
Suspended overhead lighting highlights the shimmering garments, which should draw visitors just to gawk, including a silver and blue checkerboard evening jacket, red flower-embroidered tulle layered pants, and a blue stacked sequin dress and black that looks like something Meghan Markle would wear. (She chose Armani for last year’s interview with Oprah.)
Other pieces, such as silk capri pants, a draped and beaded halter top and strappy multicolored flat sandals, look ready for the Malibu beach.
Up a few steps, a balcony shimmers with paparazzi-ready looks, including a Swarovski crystal beaded tuxedo, priced at $104,690, crystal disco-like mini dresses and clutches.
The second-floor men’s to order department focuses on clothing offerings, as does a new to order women’s department, the first of its kind on the street, where Meryl Streep’s wardrobe for the film “Don’t Look Up” was created. Customers can choose colors, fabrics, buttons, linings and more, and have their name stitched next to Giorgio Armani’s inside.
“It’s a service that covers a whole world of different customizations, starting with suits, but also knitwear, leather and even denim,” Armani said. “It is through this type of service that we have increased our market in the industry during the pandemic. It was then that we decided to introduce a limited service for women as well, which was very well received, and we realized there was a demand for custom outfits from our female audience. The decision to offer this service right here in Los Angeles, a place where women have a unique style and enjoys great media exposure, seemed like a natural step to me. I’m sure it will be a growing business, it may not surpass evening wear but it will probably reach the same level.
Men’s ready-to-wear is well represented, from everyday suits to black tie. But so does the luxury casual apparel and accessories — relaxed, stonewashed cupro zip-up jackets and matching pants, all-over logo sweatshirts and shorts, jacquard-knit slip-on sneakers, even sets of GA Pickle balls and weights. by hand.
For evening, a special menswear capsule was released just for the LA boutique, featuring blue and black velvet jackets, jacquard waistcoats and other event-ready pieces. A women’s capsule focuses on “Armani gold” styles.
Pocket doors can close spaces for VIPs; the women’s side also has a vanity so stars can take the private elevator from the back parking lot and use the store to get ready for an event, even grabbing an Armani piece of jewelry as the finishing touch.
Although Armani couldn’t make the trip to Los Angeles himself, he was styling the store from Milan via video, swapping out the looks of two models to better match the Mediterranean blue marble floor just hours before the opening. of the shop.
On Saturday night, his niece Roberta Armani will co-host an opening night with Nicole Kidman.
“Nicole Kidman is a woman whose beauty embodies an ideal very close to mine,” said the designer about the muse of the evening. “I have a deep admiration for her, she is an actress capable of interpreting the most diverse roles, managing to reinvent herself each time and to remain incredibly current.”
Although the pandemic is clearly not over, Armani is optimistic that the doors of the new store will open now.
“I strongly believe in the power of the US market today because it is cyclical and it always recovers very quickly,” he said, adding that sales in Los Angeles have returned to pre-pandemic levels and are increasing. . “It’s the perfect mix between luxury clients and traditional clients. This allows us to leverage both our DNA of special occasion and evening wear and our ability to respond to new lifestyle trends.
And while much of the fashion industry has been focused on the rise of digital, it still believes in the power of physical retail.
“The role of the flagship store remains fundamental, even if, of course, e-commerce is very present these days. But only a flagship store can involve the customer in a physical experience, where he really enters the universe and the aesthetics of the brand. This is an experience that can in no way be transmitted through online purchases. The two channels integrate, of course, but the tangibility of my universe only becomes real with the physical flagship store. That’s why I work so hard on the materials and the tactile and visual impressions that are created for the client,” he said. (The flagship’s product offerings also far outnumber those on giorgioarmani.com, with the most luxurious pieces only available in-store.)
“I think most people who buy my clothes online are already familiar with my work, so they already have an idea of how my fabrics feel to the touch,” the designer said. “In my case, I believe that online is a channel for my existing loyal customers. Anyone taking an interest in Armani for the first time should do so in person, because you really have to try on my sweet cut to be understood.