“Fashion Cannot Survive Long in an Exclusively Virtual Form”—Giorgio Armani Is Returning to the Physical Runway


When Giorgio Armani decided to disinvite the guests to his womenswear show back on February 23, 2020, as a COVID precaution, there were plenty of people in Milan who thought he was being overcautious. Some even scoffed. As we all now know, however, the designer was instead demonstrating that his foresight is not limited to fashion— and in doing so acted as the canary in the coal mine for the entire industry. That Armani show was the very first COVID-enforced digital presentation of many, many, many others that have followed in the 452 days since. During that time much has changed, but one thing noted in that review remains as true as ever: “Digital media has become a key transmitter of fashion, but nothing really compares to being there.”

Happily, Mr. Armani agrees, and there is positive and meaningful news this morning that he has decided the time is right to open his door again to physical audiences. His menswear show in Milan on June 21 will take place at his historic headquarters at Via Borgonuovo 21 before the Armani Privé collection is shown during Paris Couture Week on July 6 at the Italian Embassy.

Over an email, Mr. Armani laid out the thinking behind his house’s emergence from this longest of fashion’s lockdowns. This is what he said: “Giving value to our work is a priority that we cannot disregard. Due to the vaccination campaign, the situation is now visibly improving so we can start thinking concretely about presenting the collections in front of a live audience. Once again, my aim is to release a strong and clear statement that is also a message of hope. I was the first to stop showing, now the time has come to return to live events in my city, Milan, which has always been an undisputed fashion capital. I feel it is my duty to actively commit myself so that Milano stays alive as a fashion capital. To this regard, the choice of location for my show is highly symbolic: the Giorgio Armani men’s collection will in fact take place for the first time in the courtyard of via Borgonuovo 21, the venue that historically hosted my fashion shows.

During these months I realized that fashion cannot survive long in an exclusively virtual form. I believe there will be a return to physical shows, turned into digital experiences for the global audience. I imagine more intimate but exciting events, and in general a great freedom of expression, and this is something very positive. I believe that ‘less but better’ is the way to go, in all fields, not last as a sign of respect for the planet.”

Respect to Mr. Armani, too.

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