Male prostitution never looked so chic: With his starring turn as Julian Kaye in 1980's American Gigolo, Richard Gere threw a spotlight on the sexiness of a suit—and the skills of the film's costume designer, Giorgio Armani. While the success of American Gigolo catapulted the Italian designer to fame in the United States, Armani had been generating buzz for his sleek suiting and crisp sportswear prior to the film's release. Six months before Gigolo's February debut, WWD called his collection for that spring "an A," despite Armani telling the paper, "I know it sounds strange, but during the show, I thought everything looked really boring." Not to critics, not to Hollywood and certainly not to consumers: Armani's multibillion-dollar empire continued to bloom, expanding into couture, diffusion lines, accessories, furniture, bedding, even, in early 2010, a massive hotel in Dubai. One of the most successful and wealthiest designers in fashion history, Armani fundamentally changed the way women and men dress, with soft, modern, sophisticated suitings. Evidently, he never forgot his leading man: Gere went on to stardom and continued wearing Armani in films from Intersection to Final Analysis.
Special IssueWWD 100 issue 11/01/2010