Born July 11th, 1934, in Piacenza, Italy, Giorgio Armani is generally regarded as the one of the pinnacles of modern fashion. He originally started off in photography and medicine and served for a brief time in the Italian military. In 1957, he started a job as a buyer for La Rinascente department store in Milan. He continued in this position until 1964, when he became one of the designers for Nino Cerruti's Hitman line of clothing.
Armani's work with Cerruti continued until 1970 when he left to become a freelance designer for two other design houses. In 1974, Armani teamed up with partner Sergio Galeotti to launch a menswear line, with a womenswear line launched the following year.
This began the Armani clothing empire as the popularity of his simple and elegant designs took off all around the world but especially with the stars of Hollywood. In fact, the first use of Armani's clothing in the movies was in the film "American Gigolo" starring Richard Gere.
The clothing lines soon expanded into underwear, accessories, eyewear, and juniorwear. In 1981, Emporio Armani and Armani Jeans were launched. The following year, Armani became the first fashion designer since Christian Dior to appear on the cover of Time.
In 1982, Armani launched a woman's perfume fragrance, with a men's version appearing in stores two years later.
The year 1991 saw the launch of Armani Exchange, a "diffusion line" which sold lower priced versions of Armani designs. By the mid-90s, two more clothing lines were introduced: Armani Neve (winterwear) and Armani Golf.
During the 90s, Armani ran into some difficult times with the Italian authorities over alleged dealings with the Mafia. In the end, he was cleared of all suspicion and he went public with his admission that like most other fashion houses, he also had to pay protection money to avoid troubles from the Mafia.
At the 20th century's closing, Armani's clothing empire had annual sales of over $1 billion.
The year 2000 saw the Guggenheim Museum house an exhibition of Armani's work as a 25-year celebration of his label and the exhibit ran in New York from October 2000 to January 2001.