#Atribute to SportDecember 7 / 2014
“Sport has always been one of my passions.
I believe it represents the qualities that improve us as people:
dedication, sacrifice, perseverance and willpower.
It is beneficial for the body and spirit alike,
as it shows that there is no success without dedication.”
So says Giorgio Armani.
And his favourite sport?
Basketball is one of my favourite sports: exciting, fast and full of action. I am a big supporter and fan.
Giorgio Armani talks of Basketball as ‘the family sport’. It is for this reason that in 2008 he actually took over the famous but ailing Milanese team, Olimpia Milano.
I met Olimpia Milano during a troublesome time and I took control in order to solve their problems, and day after day, I got more and more involved. It has got to the stage that I rarely miss a meeting, and I am gripped with the spirit of an enthusiast and supporter, rather than that of an owner.
Now, under the name EA7 Emporio Armani Milano, this basketball club won the Italian League in 2014, coming back to its winning ways.
However, it is not the winning that is important to Armani. His interest in sport derives from the dedication and the discipline that it demands, something that he can relate to personally, being a man who has an extremely committed work ethic.
In sport we witness the struggle to excel, both mentally and physically, and it is this inner charge that I admire.
Of course, sportsmen and women are not only wonderful role models, but also make good fashion models as they are at the peak of physical condition. Therefore, over the years, Giorgio Armani has invited many of the world’s greatest athletes to wear his clothes for advertising campaigns and on the catwalk. Among these have been Brazilian international footballer Kakà, as an ambassador for Armani Jeans and Emporio Armani, Italian World Champion swimmer Filippo Magnini for EA7 Emporio Armani, and Spanish tennis champion Rafael Nadal for Emporio Armani Underwear and Armani Jeans.
Although in 2007 Giorgio Armani designed a wardrobe for the off-field activities of the South Sydney Rabbitohs, the famous Australian rugby league team co-owned by his friend Russell Crowe, and in 2010 EA7 Emporio Armani was the official supplier of the uniforms of Italy’s Team Azzurra during the La Maddalena Regatta of the Louis Vuitton Trophy, it is the game of football that has dominated the house’s relationship with sport.
It was creating the uniforms for the Italian national team for the 1994 World Cup that marked Armani’s first experience of outfitting athletes. Since then, the designer has dressed many great footballers: Cristiano Ronaldo, Luís Figo, Fabio Cannavaro, Andriy Shevchenko (with whom Armani opened a store in Kiev in Ukraine, the birthplace of the player) and Christian Vieri. He also designed the uniforms for the English clubs of Newcastle United and Chelsea. For the latter, Armani also created a new interior for the club’s Directors’ Suite at Stamford Bridge, which was renamed the Armani/Lounge. Working with the England national team for the World Cup in 2006, for whom Armani made the uniforms, also led to a relationship with England captain David Beckham, who became a model for Emporio Armani Underwear.
As from 2014, Armani has been the supplier of the formal uniform for the famous German multi-trophy winners FC Bayern München. The team wardrobe, which comes from the Giorgio Armani Made to Measure Collection, is provided to the players and management staff.
But perhaps it has been the Olympics that have provided the largest stage for Armani and sport. For the London 2012 Games, the complete wardrobe, both sporting and formal, for the athletes of the Italian Olympic and Paralympic teams was created by EA7 Emporio Armani. The designer also conceived the official outfits worn by the team during the opening ceremony. For the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Armani again supplied all the formal and leisure wear for the athletes on the Italian Olympic and Paralympic teams, and he will do the same for the Olympic Games in Rio next year, in 2016.
A passion for sport is central to the Italian way of life, bringing people together and instilling positive values
The designer certainly sees sport as a force for good. Indeed, in January 2004, the year the modern Olympics came home to their birthplace, Athens, Armani opened Milan Men’s Fashion Week with an event at his Via Manzoni store celebrating the book Facce da Sport, a charity initiative to raise awarenes and funds for the international movement of the Special Olympics.
I consider male and female athletes of today as modern-day gladiators who will seduce us both on and off the field. In this book I wanted to remember my collaborations with some of the greatest athletes in the world, many of whom have inspired the athletes of the Special Olympics.’
A party to launch an exhibition of photographs from the book was held at Armani/Via Manzoni – the exhibition was then opened to the public.
The public remains fascinated by the bodies of athletes, but the secret of their strength, their ambition and passion can be truly read on their faces and interpreted through their expressions. For this reason, many portraits of the book focus on their faces. These are the Faces of Sport
In this special publication there are more than 400 pages of photos including pictures of footballers Luìs Figo, Ronaldo, Francesco Totti, Andriy Shevchenko, Christian Vieri, David Beckham, Thierry Henry and David James; rugby players Dan Luger and Lawrence Dallaglio; basketball players Kevin Garnett and Rick Fox; baseball players Cal Ripken, Jr. and Alex Rodriguez; swimmers Domenico Fioravanti and Ian Thorpe; tennis players Serena Williams, Andy Roddick, Pete Sampras and Boris Becker; boxers Oscar De La Hoya and Lennox Lewis; golfer Tiger Woods; athletes Carl Lewis and Maurice Greene; and Special Olympics athlete Kester Edwards.
The tennis champion Serena Williams said: ‘This was one of the most fun projects in which I have ever been involved and I feel honoured to be part of such a varied group, for a cause so useful and important.’
Olympic champion Carl Lewis and Kester Edwards attended the Giorgio Armani men’s fashion show in Milan four days after the Facce da Sport event, and afterwards Lewis said: ‘Breaking the barriers and redefining the concept of front row at fashion shows with the Special Olympics. There is a place for everyone in the Armani house.’