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WWD: Did your health setback prompt any reflection on the issues of management and design succession that all large companies face?
G.A.: Certainly it was an occasion to think about [the future], but you will understand that in that situation, my priority was to get better. So I tried to avoid inflicting negative thoughts upon myself, like compiling a will. Obviously I did one long ago, and maybe it was time to revise it, but I didn’t because my days were centered on taking medicine, resting, being nursed or waiting for my sister to come by with a pudding. You become a bit childish, an aspect that contrasts heavily with my attitude, which is always a bit dictatorial.
WWD: What should we expect to see on your runway today?
G.A.: The collection was inspired by Body Art as body language and infused with an eccentric purity that comes from Bauhaus. All the pieces have bold cuts and constructions, at times delineated by chiffon covered ribs. It’s all very essential and rigorous but a play in contrasts makes the collection sumptuous and exuberant.
There was a lot of research in shapes that change, such as leotards that resemble wraparound dresses, cropped pants shirred to look like skirts and layered, one-shoulder blouses with checkered prints. Lengths are short and worn with flats. Jackets are linear with contrast stitching in soft shades such as earth tones, gray, blue, green and a new dull red and iris purple.
WWD: Have you changed your design approach at all, given the economy and changing consumer mood?
G.A.: No, not at all. I’ve learned over the years that a designer who reacts to every fluctuation in cultural and fashion trends can easily come off the rails. The fulcrum of Armani has always been the pursuit of a coherent and rigorous aesthetic. The constants are quality, elegance, stylistic excellence and innovation.
During my 30 years in fashion, I explored many different roads, from minimalism to ethnic, but most of the time, people expect the same style from me and don’t understand change. That’s my challenge.
WWD: Are you in the mood for experimentation or classicism?
G.A.: Both. My style is to respect the past but projecting myself into the future.
WWD: In terms of fashion, what kinds of styles will be the most desirable in the post-recession period? Do you expect any major change?
G.A.: I think there will certainly be a wave of simple, minimalist and timeless models. Then, as always happens in fashion, the pendulum will probably swing in the other direction so that when the economy starts to pick up, we will see a return to glamour.
WWD: Are there any particular men or women, famous or not, whom you find particularly inspiring and why?
G.A.: I’m a fan of cinema for which reason I always remain in awe when I work with actors and actresses that seem to me to have that magic star quality of the Hollywood golden age, people like George Clooney, Cate Blanchett or Isabelle Huppert, whom I dressed this year at Cannes for her role as president of the jury for the [film] festival.
WWD: Once the dust settles from the recession, do you think it will be back to business as usual or has the industry been changed indelibly?
G.A.: I think people have undergone a cultural change. The recession is making everyone more careful when choosing how to spend their money. Nevertheless, I believe that people are fundamentally moved by aspirations and so will always desire beautiful well-made things and be receptive to them.