The ten creatives that have inspired Giorgio Armani

Wallpaper* October 2022 Guest Editor Giorgio Armani reflects on his top ten creative inspirations – including the architecture of Pierre Chareau, the fashion of Issey Miyake and Sarah Moon’s images of “tough delicacy” that collectively shaped his vision of modernity.

Giorgio Armani on his creative inspirations

Sarah moon

La Robe a Pois1996, by Sarah Moon. Photography: © Sarah Moon, courtesy of the Michael Hoppen Gallery

“The years when I first started my career – the 1970s – are a time I remember not with nostalgia but with energy: the change was overwhelming and obvious and cut through all layers of society. I was swept away by it myself and contributed with my work to what was changing in the female world. Among the most interesting magazines of the time, I remember Nova, which had a strong focus on emancipation. I was particularly impressed by the work of a young photographer who would later become my friend and whose work I would exhibit at Silos: Sarah Moon. The mixture of romantic longing and strength is striking in her early recordings. Sarah envisioned a new woman, free from prejudice and beliefs, but who still managed to create an aura of magnetic fragility around her. This chewy delicacy still inspires me today.”

Tadao Ando

Ando and Armani photographed at the launch of Armani/Teatro in Milan in 2001. Photograph by Roger Hutchins, courtesy of Giorgio Armani

“In my opinion, Tadao Ando is the absolute master of contemporary architecture. His constructions of solid and empty – where the relationship to the environment and nature is always so important – seem to me to be the spatial realization of haikus: Ando’s architecture dissolves like verses, connecting words and ideas in a brilliant spirit of synthesis complex elements with the greatest possible compositional simplicity. I was able to appreciate his meticulousness and sensitivity firsthand after working with him at Armani/Teatro. Tadao and I share a deep love of nature that grows into an absolute respect. His lesson is precision and dedication: like me, he is self-taught in a profession that has made him successful and has worked hard to make his visions a reality.”

Giorgio Morandi

still life1946, by Giorgio Morandi, currently on view at Tate Modern. Photography courtesy of Tate/DACS, 2020

“Being part of something for yourself, not interfering in movements, cultivating your own aesthetic without being seduced by the little things of the moment: this is a kind of calm, serene heroism that I learned from Giorgio Morandi, one of my favorite Italian artists. A heroism I share. He is a truly exceptional case of an isolated painter with very little contact with other masters of the time. It is also an extraordinary case of an artist who almost exclusively painted the same subjects: bottles, vases, coffee pots, flowers, bowls and landscapes – always in the same room in which he spent his whole life. What strikes me about Morandi is his palette: neutral and melancholic, but full of subtle, infinite modulations; and then his ability to simplify forms to find just a few essential elements. His paintings are calm and reflective, both characteristics of the most exciting art.”

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Jean Cocteau

still off The blood of a poet1930, by Jean Cocteau. Film stills: © 1930 Studiocanal

“Director, screenwriter, painter, playwright, novelist, poet: I appreciate Jean Cocteau’s legendary but almost elusive character. Everyone knows his name, but without connecting it to a specific form of expression in his art. Many have read Les Enfants Terriblessome have seen The blood of a poet (1930) or Beauty and the Beast (1946); others are struck by his magnificent drawings, so simple yet erotic. I like his idea of ​​”encompassing art” that mixes words, painting, music and dance. He called everything as a whole “poetry” – and that is no different from my way of understanding fashion, connecting it to living and experiencing everything, housing and even eating. I have always been struck by his sensibility, his avant-garde style with roots in classicism, his ability to transport elements of the everyday to other contexts to show them from a different perspective.”

Pierre Chareau

The living room in the Maison de Verre, Paris, built 1928-1932 for Annie and Jean Dalsace Photography by Mark Lyons

“The modern movement profoundly shaped the aesthetics of the 20th century, and Pierre Chareau was one of its pioneers. My favorite project of his – and also his most famous – is the Maison de Verre on rue Saint-Guillaume in Paris, which he built in collaboration with Bernard Bijvoet and Louis Dalbet: a masterpiece of simplicity and modularity, with its translucent glass facade and different spaces , which can be divided by sliding and rotating partitions made of glass, sheet metal and perforated metal. The fluidity of this space is truly amazing: an architectural design reminiscent of a mechanical ballet. What I admire about Chareau is his ability to bring new meaning to the entire space with just a few movements, and also the fact that he is essentially famous for a single project.”

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coco chanel

Coco Chanel photographed in her Paris office in 1938. Photography by François Kollar, RMN-Grand Palais, 2022 © Photo Scala, Florence

“The true fashion revolutionaries of the 20th century were all women, and I’m not surprised: a woman who creates women’s clothing has an understanding of her body and her roles that a man can hardly match. I love Jeanne Lanvin as much as Madeleine Vionnet and Elsa Schiaparelli, but my favorite remains Coco Chanel, who I consider to be the inventor of a modern way of dressing and therefore of the contemporary woman. With her began the liberation of the female wardrobe, which should not be forgotten. I learned from Chanel the importance of material and, to put an end to all prejudice, their famous jersey jackets were actually originally made of the same fabric as men’s underwear. Here this freedom is a great incentive, a great inspiration. Added to this is the ability to synthesize; in other words, to work with only a few colors and few details repeated with the utmost subtlety.’

Jean Michel Frank

The New York apartment designed by Jean-Michel Frank for Nelson Rockefeller in 1938. Photography by Ezra Stoller/ESTO, courtesy of the Rockefeller Foundation

“Jean-Michel Frank’s ability to appeal to modernity and timeless classicism is second to none. Its interior design testifies to the absolute absence of the superfluous, the concentration on the essentials. It remains unprecedented for me. His style was so pure it merited the definition ‘luxury of spirit’ and was a veritable celebration of empty space at a time when excessive splendour, cluttered settings and formulaic baroqueism prevailed instead. However, calling him a minimalist would not do him justice. Frank certainly loved white and neutral colors, but his work was multidimensional, with an absolute focus on matter. I find his idea of ​​subtraction endlessly inspiring and personally I also admire that he wore a gray suit as a uniform, as I do with my blue t-shirt.”

Issey Miyake

A Cicada Pleats outfit from the S/S89 collection by Issey Miyake. Photograph by Albert Watson

“Clothes like flying saucers, gowns cut from a single piece of fabric, bridges drawn between the ancestral past and the galactic future, and then the ever inventive use of folds: Issey Miyake’s work was poetic and tended toward a constant search for functionality – an aspect that not all designers focus on today. I have never hidden my passion for Japanese designers, for their quest for simplicity, for their always progressive and fresh vision of the relationship between clothes and the body. Miyake is the one I feel closest to, especially for his attention to people. The clothes he creates only come to life when worn, and they change from one person to another, following their way of being and behaving. I try to do that myself because I never forget: if the first thing you notice about a person is their clothes, then the designer made a mistake.”

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Henri Matisse

Nu Bleu II1952, by Henri Matisse. Photography by Image Center Pompidou MNAM-CCI, RMN-Grand Palais, 2022 © Photo Scala, Florence

“Form, color, immediacy: Henri Matisse Blue Files, a series of cut-out collages, is an incredible example of the spirit of synthesis that marks great artists. These are works in which rhythm and sensuality are magnetic, with touches of blue that make them electrifying. What I find particularly inspiring is that Matisse created this joyous, triumphant ode to life when he was already an old man and used scissors instead of a brush. Rather than succumbing to physical decline, he found inspiration and renewed energy in his art, creating works that were brilliant, striking, and large. A thought that I find myself in today more than ever: Creativity really has no age.”

Eileen Grey

Eileen Gray’s Villa E 1027 (1926-1929) is below Le Corbusier’s Unités de Camping (1955-1957) on the Côte d’Azur. Photography by Benjamin Gavaudo/Centre des monuments nationaux © Eileen Gray/Jean Badovici/Fondation Le Corbusier–ADAGP

“Eileen Gray, a mysterious trailblazer, was an elusive character, both as a woman and as a designer. Even Le Corbusier looked up to her. I often think of their unique way of designing spaces and the elements that adorn them. She used a pure but never cold language that gave absolute priority to matter. But I also think of the free way she experienced femininity. This came back to me the other day because the Jean Désert gallery, which she opened with Jean Badovici in Paris, was opposite the Salle Pleyel, where I exhibited my Privé collection. From her I learned the balance between volume and emptiness, between curves and straight lines: the “Bibendum” chair and the “E 1027” coffee table are unforgettable in this sense, as is the Maison en bord de mer E 1027 in Roquebrune. Cap-Martin, a masterpiece of balance and surprise.’ §

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