Armani / Silos has always been one of my favorite places in Milan since the first time I had the chance to see it in 2017. Located in the heart of the Tortona district, where most of the Milan Design Week events take place every year, it is a huge building dedicated to the Giorgio Armani universe.
With a surface area of 4500 sqm and extending over four levels, the space opened in 2015 to celebrate 40 years of the Italian designer’s career. It is called “Silos” because the structure was originally a barn built in 1950 that was used to keep the grains.
During the renovation of the space Giorgio Armani, who personally supervised the project, chose to focus on minimalism, eliminating the superfluous and preferring regular geometrical forms that perfectly match the aesthetics of his brand.
Armani / Silos tells the story of more than 40 years of Armani’s career, showcasing about 400 clothes and 200 accessories from 1980 to this day. As he carefully selected items for display that best represented his world, the designer explained: “[…] Fashion, which seems to live in an eternal present, needs to reflect on itself and its roots precisely in order to project itself into the future, accompanying and often anticipating major social changes. Remembering how we have been helps us understand how we can be.”
The first time I visited Armani / Silos I was with my parents and we spent an amazing December afternoon looking at all the wonderful Armani creations that are available for the public to see. I was really enchanted by the beauty of the vintage clothes that are displayed, especially by the ones who came out in the 1990s, since it is the decade I was born in.
Giorgio Armani came to prominence while designing menswear for Nino Cerruti and then he went on to form his own company in 1975; while he started out as a fashion designer, presenting his first menswear and womenswear collection for S/S 1976, he further ventured into the world of sports and luxury hotels. He was the first designer to create a wardrobe for a movie, as he did for the character of Richard Gere in American Gigolo; this led to many brands following in his footsteps. He is also credited for being among the first fashion designers to have his own creations worn on the red carpet by actors and actresses alike.
The Armani name has always given relevance to art in all its forms, often mixing it with fashion; one example is “Tadao Andō: The Challenge”, the retrospective about Tadao Andō, a renowned Japanese architect, that I had the opportunity to visit in the spring of 2019. The two have in common a strong appreciation for minimalism, and the architect worked on the renovation of Armani / Teatro, where Armani usually showcases his prêt-à-porter collections during fashion week.
Tadao Andō is one of the key figures of contemporary architecture and it was great to see his most important works at the Armani / Silos retrospective because his vision fully embraces the Armani aesthetics, characterized by rigor and order, a neutral palette and balanced proportions that are typical of minimalism.
I came back to Armani / Silos about a year ago for an exhibition titled “The Way We Are” which was meant to celebrate 40 years of Emporio Armani, a fashion line that was introduced in 1981 and had the same quality in terms of style but geared toward a younger audience, with a more accessible retail price.
The success of Emporio Armani is probably due to its advertising methods, which were pretty new at the time; the line gained popularity mainly because of the television spots and giant street ads that contributed to the worldwide expansion of what is now considered the second Armani line, whose fashion shows take place during each edition of Milan Fashion Week. The Armani fashion house even bought a wall in via Broletto, which is part of the historic district of Milan, to display his advertising campaigns; the wall has now become an iconic piece of the city’s urban scenery and many people use it as a reference point to meet one another, saying “See you at the Armani wall!”.
The Emporio Armani name was also made famous by the eponymous magazine, which also dealt with themes of current affairs and showcased the work of great photographers like Peter Lindbergh. In occasion of Emporio Armani’s 40th anniversary, the magazine was reissued after more than 20 years since the latest edition; it sold out fast, so I was very happy when I managed to grab a copy at my trusted newsstand in Milan’s Piazza San Babila, where I have been purchasing fashion magazines since I was a teenager.
The Emporio Armani exhibition was really an immersive exploration of the brand’s history and it was characterized by giant moodboards, videos and clothes from Emporio Armani collections that were presented over the years, with mirrors both on the ceiling and the floor that make viewers feel part of the scene. The exhibition gathered the most memorable garments and the most famous items that are emblematic of the Emporio Armani world.
Giorgio Armani talked to the press and explained the concept behind the brand and its anniversary, commenting: “I imagined Emporio Armani as a line with which to experiment, capturing new trends and proposing a democratic fashion, a container in which everyone can find something and make it their own, interpreting it in a personal way. Today it represents the transversal and dynamic declination of my concept of style and has not lost the initial spirit of individuality and aggregation, of research and freedom. These are the values I wanted to emphasize with this exhibition, because Emporio has always been a brand strongly anchored in contemporaneity, reflecting the energy and vitality of the metropolis, capturing its rhythm and proposing an experience made of clothes, accessories and ideas.”
The exhibition reinterprets the aesthetics and ideas that have always distinguished the brand, highlighting values like freedom, individuality and aggregation. It is truly a representation of a piece of Italian fashion history and one of the leading exponents of Made in Italy on an international level.
As the Emporio Armani manifesto recited, “Within an EMPORIO, (emporium), there are no limits of time or space. An EMPORIO acts as a container, an encyclopaedia, an algorithm. An EMPORIO holds everything, for everyone, at all times. An EMPORIO has no set schemes. EMPORIO ARMANI is all of this, under the banner of the eagle. It is here, now, today, in every way. It is me, you, us—we are all the same because we are different. Free. It is pragmatism and imagination. It is EA”.
I am deeply grateful to have had the chance to visit Armani / Silos and every time I have been to the space, it has always enriched my day. The museum also hosts a digital archive, a café and a gift shop that allow the visitors to have an absolutely riveting experience.
Armani / Silos is located at via Bergognone, 40 in Milan and it is available to visit from Wednesday to Sunday, 11.00 am – 7.00 pm. For ticket prices, visit www.armanisilos.com
The Giorgio Armani quote was extracted from a Vanity Fair article that celebrated the 40th anniversary of Emporio Armani. The Emporio Armani manifesto was in the promotional press release for the exhibition, translated by L’Officiel.
All pictures are my own.
2 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: A Day At Armani / Silos And 40 Years of Emporio Armani”
Comments are closed.