Talking fashion with Giorgio Armani

August 2007

Giorgio Armani is one of the most famous names in fashion and design and 2007 marks the 10th anniversary of Emporio Armani Orologi. Europa Star's International Editor Keith W. Strandberg caught up with the legendary designer in his Milan, Italy office.


ES: What is the mission for Emporio Armani Watches moving forward?

GA: I think the main objective for Emporio Armani watches consists in creating the perfect balance between advanced technology and a distinctive yet fashionable Armani touch that is in touch with the Emporio Armani fashion aesthetic and philosophy. I design Emporio Armani watches with the intention of keeping them accessible and affordable, while offering true value in terms of styling and design. The collection is basically made up of two parts - a very strong, classic element on the one side, which forms the basic identity of the collection, and the other part where we have pieces that represent our seasonal, fashion direction. I want Emporio Armani watches to offer this balance. My men’s collection has always been extremely strong, from the very start. Going forward, we have decided to make the development of women’s watches a key focus. Also, my partnership with RED, is something I’ve committed to. It makes me happy to have the chance to contribute to this worthy cause. I’m glad the public is responding to it.

ES: How does the design of other Armani products impact Emporio Armani Watches?

GA: Design and style influence almost every part of our lives now and the opportunity to bring my aesthetic into these areas is extremely inspiring and motivating. Every season we introduce watches that are in some part inspired by my experiences and the things I see around me - stylistic references that I appreciate and apply to my own creativity. This personal expression of creativity inevitably exhibits itself in other areas of my work and you can see the connections in the clothing and other accessories I design. We introduce watches every season that are inspired by the creative direction applied to clothing and other accessories, linking them directly to what we see on the runway as well as in our stores. This season's runway collection featured a lot of strong primary colours in graphic geometric patterns. I wanted it to be seductive with a touch of eclectic 30s. You can see this tendency in this season's watch collection as well, where I gave priority to white and other bold colours, such as red enamel. The colours, materials, textures, shapes and other details I choose to use make their way into bits of everything I design. It’s what ties everything together and keeps them coherent.


AR0546, AR5663, AR5647, AR4209

ES: How involved are you with the design of Emporio Armani Watches?

GA: I am very involved in the design process, as I am with all products designed and produced within my company. My personal involvement is naturally in the area of my own special expertise: the aesthetic, the design and the materials. I work closely with a team of product design specialists who develop the collection and then I come in at the end to verify and add the final touches.

ES: How important is unique design in the watch industry?

GA: I think watches should not only be highly valued for their technical excellence, but also – or mainly – for their aesthetic appeal, uniqueness and exclusive details. Within the segment of mid-priced fashion watches, I think we’ve been able to make a very bold imprint. Emporio Armani watches have a distinct character, a special look, which makes them easily distinguishable, and not just with a logo. This uniqueness is in large part what makes them so appealing and successful.

ES: What are people looking for in a fashion watch?

GA: Fashion watches are an accessory, something that dresses up your look and say something about you and your sense of style. Watches are not so much perceived as practical necessities any more. Their appeal is becoming more and more about the pure object for adornment and status. People want to be able to match their watch to their outfit almost in the same way they match their shoes or a handbag to what they wear. Now one collects a selection of watches to choose from each day, as opposed to just having one watch.

ES: Are there any trends you are seeing in fashion watches?

GA: I must say I avoid ‘gimmicky’ watches, which are not to my taste. I usually prefer a modern, everlasting elegance rather than attention-grabbing devices. I do recognize that women have shifted to larger cases and oversized looks, more than used to be the case. We see this amongst men’s watches as well with cases getting bigger and bigger, almost massive. This is something that started a couple of years ago and continues to remain strong. It doesn't appear to be a fad or short-lived trend.
For women, masculine designs, not just in terms of size and weightiness, but also with the presence of functions (i.e. chronographs, mechanical movements, etc.), seems to be a new direction taking shape.
I’ve also noticed a subtle change with watches adorned with precious and semi-precious stones. The trend has been to introduce varying cuts of stones. Traditionally, brilliant round cuts have been the norm, but we are seeing a demand for more stones cut in different shapes, such as baguette cuts which we use most in our watches. For men, I think there is definitely a return to mechanical movements and technical functionality, even within the non-luxury segment of the industry.

ES: What will be the focus for Emporio Armani Watches at Basel this year?

GA: Last Fall we launched a small range of mechanical watches called Meccanico, an industry first within the fashion watch category. The range is made up of watches with self-winding, automatic movements (jumping hour, retrograde date and multifunction calendar, tri-hand date, etc.). They basically offer a level of watch-making complexity traditionally reserved for the high-end segment of the market, but we do it at extremely accessible prices and with signature Armani style. Our initial success has been phenomenal, not so much because our customers express a need to use the functions in these mechanical watches, but simply because they have a deep appreciation of the design. This year we will focus great attention on the extension of our Meccanico range, including the limited series model AR4212 which we will introduce to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Emporio Armani watches.

Many thanks to Giorgio Armani for taking the time to share his thoughts with Europa Star's readers.

Source: Europa Star April-May 2007 Magazine Issue