Giorgio Armani has long shown his versatility when it comes to fashion. From his breakout moment outfitting Richard Gere in unstructured suits for American Gigolo back in 1980 to his reign as womenswear power dresser in the late 1980s and early ’90s, Armani has come to mean not only great suits but also a certain lifestyle of laid-back luxe (for further proof, see his home and hotel collections). He proved his couturier prowess six years ago when he launched his Privé line, which has since become the glamorous go-to on the red carpet, but it’s his lesser-known accompanying fine jewelry that’s perhaps the most intriguing part of Privé. After all, Armani designs each of the made-to-order pieces himself—a rarity for fashion houses, which outsource fine jewelry to craftsmen trained in that specialty. “The couture collection gives me the freedom to express myself and to work with a higher level of craftsmanship,” says Armani. “The jewelry is conceived in this same ethos.”
In July, Armani presented his fall/winter Privé line in the foyer of Paris’s Théâtre National de Chaillot, transporting show-goers to the sepia-and-pastel-washed pages of Stanley and Elizabeth Burns’s Geisha: A Photographic History with a collection he dedicated to Japan in light of the earthquake and tsunami that hit the country in March. There were floral-motif column gowns with obi sashes and folds, asymmetrical silk kimono tops and découpage-effect jackets that evoked the structured and ritualistic decoration of the 19th-century Japanese courtesan. The designs were paired with ten pieces of rubellite, lilac jade, sapphire, chalcedony and aquamarine-encrusted jewels (colored stones that Armani chose for their similarity to the vibrant silks used to make kimonos) depicting swans, orchids and other flora and fauna. The ornate works, which Armani designs simultaneously with the clothing, are perhaps best seen with the bold, bright lines of Philip Treacy’s origami-inspired hats, the second collaboration the Irish milliner has done with the designer. “There is a great reverence for the natural world in Japanese art and culture, and I looked to the most beautiful aspects for inspiration,” Armani says. Take these white-gold orchid earrings with blue topaz and sapphires with a matching aquamarine ring, shown here. “I studied flowers—in particular the graceful lines of ikebana flower arrangements—and I tried to express the spirit of that disciplined artistry in the jewelry.”
For jewelry from the Armani Privé collection, call 212-988-9191.
Pictured: Armani Privé yellow-gold ring with oval rubellite center stone, surrounded by Australian gold pearls, white diamonds, natural brown and gray diamonds and white rosettes, price upon request.