The magazine was started in 1988 by Armani and his sister, Rosanna. This new editorial partnership managed to combine images from runway shows with cultural pieces
It was 1981. Italy was still embroiled in the era of 1970s terrorism, dark years which were not quite over and which were also characterized by a tasteless decline in design and fashion, when Giorgio Armani created the Emporio Armani brand. He was addressing a new audience of young men and women. The 1980s flew by. Over the course of two seasons a country that was trapped, dispirited, and tired of seeing so much blood spilled in vain, threw itself enthusiastically into frivolity and release. The Italians wanted to dream. The provocative and occasionally deadly political credo which had characterized the previous decade, was replaced by an enormous desire for levity, entertainment, imagination, and fashion that was accessible to everyone.
The city of Milan produced the ‘paninari’: kids of the 1980s who no longer believed in politics, but preferred hanging out in the San Babila area – where the first Emporio Armani would one day open – amusing themselves thoughtlessly and sporting certain essential items of clothing. Looking back now the clothes of the ‘paninari’ were anything but elegant, and I have to admit that my mother and father were right when they accused me of dressing like a trashy lumberjack from Vermont and eating American meatballs. It was in the 1980s – happily referred to as the years of Reagan hedonism by Roberto d’Agostino – that the Emporio Armani Magazine was born.
The magazine was started in 1988 by Armani and his sister, Rosanna. This new editorial partnership managed, with great spirit of adventure, to combine images from runway shows with a sophisticated and unique selection of cultural pieces that included everything from books to music to photography, and above all exclusive interviews with celebrities from the film industry, like Bernardo Bartolucci. Emporio Armani Magazine was not a fashion catalogue, nor was it a magazine. It just was. Its distribution was selective and targeted. It remained as such until 1997, the year in which the final issue of this unusual magazine was released, a magazine that had, for almost a decade, brought together images and thoughts according to an Armanian Weltanschaung, born from the existential aesthetic of the designer, and paired with his specific nature as a patron of sorts, always encouraging young emerging photographers by providing them with visibility and opportunities.
The magazine’s strong suit had always been black and white photography, not just images created to publicize a certain item of clothing, but rather pure and concentrated cinematographic art. After nineteen years the magazine closed its doors, stopping at issue 18. Giorgio Armani took his leave and young photographers were no longer offered that outlet for expressing themselves. The questions that would have been asked in exclusive interviews with directors, were no longer formulated.
However, after almost twenty years, Emporio Armani Magazine returned with n.19 in September 2017. One might ask: why choose to take on the challenge of publishing a glossy, luxurious magazine rich in iconographic legacy that constantly refers to the world of film, full of valuable interviews and opinions, at a time like this, an era of digital delirium, in which information and images travel at the speed of light on social media? In which the sloppy and the ugly reign, in which every piece of information is consumed in the span of just a few hours? What does it mean to return to tradi-tional publication, when now more than ever the printed page is experiencing a global crisis?
This time, unlike the first, Giorgio Armani is alone, without his sister Rosanna having a say in every tiny detail. The audience which this resuscitated magazine addresses and nods at, is once again the younger generation; young men and women of today that are certainly nothing like those of 1988, when Massimo Ranieri won Sanremo with the song Perdere l’amore, and Almodovar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown played in movie theatres. The youths of today aim high, without a solid cultural foundation, without rules, in a happy and reckless anarchy. Young men and women have become digital natives, born when the internet had already reached nearly every corner of the country and even old “fuddy duddies” had begun to send e-mails to one another. The youths of today have rarely gone to the newsstand to buy a daily paper. They have grown up interacting with the world via a keyboard, are used to getting the news in real time, and are inexperienced in the pleasure of the printed page. The challenge undertaken by Emporio Armani Magazine is perhaps a timeless one.