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MILAN — “This is an act of love for my city,” said Giorgio Armani of his superluxe hotel that opens here today. “I wasn’t born here, but this is my city, and I remember when I arrived here as a young man in the late Fifties-early Sixties and I didn’t know how to do anything.”
Armani, who has since helped shape the history of fashion and built a $2.1 billion empire, is now leaving a further, permanent mark on the city that houses his headquarters. “I like the idea of being remembered not only for my clothes, and I like to bring an element of luxury that adds prestige to the city,” said the designer, his piercing blue eyes enhanced by his blue blazer and blue tie, during an interview Thursday in the hotel’s lounge. “I love the Milanese and their sincere and direct approach. We hired 200 employees to work at the hotel. This is what I would like to happen going forward, for young people to find a job.”
The Armani Hotel Milano opens at a difficult time for Italy, weighed down by debt and facing uncertainty as stock markets slump, a few days after Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi pledged to step down once an austerity package is approved.
While Armani said he was “very concerned about the political and economic crisis” as he further invests in his own company, he diplomatically said it was “difficult to judge the new politicians. As for the old, something didn’t work and I won’t say whose fault that is.” Armani gave a thumbs-up to Mario Monti — “very elegant, inside and outside” — rumored to be Berlusconi’s successor.
The Milan venue follows the unveiling in April 2010 of the designer’s first hotel in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa tower. It opens under the Armani Hotels & Resorts banner, a venture between Giorgio Armani SpA and Dubai-based developer Emaar Properties PJSC that was formed in 2005.
Emaar chief executive officer Low Ping said the project is “going full steam ahead,” and that the Dubai and Milan hotels are located in “two iconic places and very strategic locations. And don’t underestimate the traveling Asians, who flock to the Dubai venue, and are expected to do as much here.”
The Milan hotel is opposite the city’s prestigious Via Montenapoleone shopping street, and near the La Scala theater and the cathedral Il Duomo.
The unveiling of the hotel on Thursday was marked by a cocktail that evening to be attended by Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jessica Alba.
Located in the 1937 building that also houses Armani’s Manzoni 31 flagship, the hotel covers 162,000 square feet over floors two to eight. There is an entrance on the ground floor, where “Lifestyle Managers” greet guests and accompany them to the reception on the second floor. This is in line with the sense of privacy that was top of mind for Armani. “The lobby is functional, and there’s no people-watching on the ground floor,” he said. “I have a huge respect for privacy.”
A private vestibule at the entrance of each room further accentuates the feeling.
The hotel has 95 guest rooms and suites designed by Armani, all furnished with Armani Casa linens, fabrics and custom furniture, and ranging from Deluxe and Première rooms to Classic, Executive, Ambassador, Signature and Presidential suites. The latter two cover 2,160 square feet each on two levels connected by an imposing staircase, a gym or a private cinema, a kitchen and a studio.