London Fashion Week is in full swing with all the key events taking place at the Store Studios on The Strand. And last night, (September 17), things reached fever pitch as Giorgio Armani moved his Emporio Armani catwalk show to London for the very first time. The headlining show, which received rave reviews, was designed to coincide with the opening of the newly refurbished Emporio Armani Bond Street store, which despite a soft launch earlier this month, officially opens today.
I’ve been given a sneak preview of the new-look boutique, which feels radically different to the store that existed before, though the address is still the same of course. Spanning over two floors and measuring 905 square metres, it feels bright and airy thanks in part to the two colossal street level windows. They drench the entranceway in natural light, which seems to carry you down the wide glass staircase to the womenswear department on the lower ground floor. This then leads to something rather rare in central London – leafy outdoor space. I’m told that Mr Armani personally saw to every design detail throughout the store, working closely with his team of architects. And it shows.
Both men’s and womenswear in the current A/W 2017 collections are arranged on racks in carefully edited, easy to read groupings, showing more than one way to wear an outfit. London’s experimental fashion style has also been taken into consideration and there’s a less formal feel to the current window display. As one assistant tells me in sotto voce, Mr Armani rarely puts jeans in the windows. Here though, they are styled with a beautiful cashmere coat – something you wouldn’t see in more conservative cities such as Milan. Pieces made with eco-friendly leather and faux fur are also given pride of place in this London flagship. Meanwhile, gadgets such as skateboards, Polaroid cameras and segways emblazoned with the distinctive EA logo, are clearly aimed at a hip, London male.
From today, the store will be selling a capsule collection called ‘New Bond’. It consists of three pieces designed by British fashion students and handpicked by Mr Armani as part of a competition organised with the British Fashion Council and some of the U.K’s leading fashion schools. As part of the design brief, students were asked to “bring the essence of British style” to three iconic Emporio Armani pieces. The winners, Boyeong Lim, Kameel Shahjhan and Dmitry Gotsfrid created a bag, a pair of shoes and a bomber jacket respectively. The winning pieces (shown here), will also go on sale at Emporio Armani stores in Manchester and Glasgow as well as the Armani.com website.
Armani has long supported emerging talents fresh out of fashion school. The 83-year old designer says: “British design schools are among the most interesting in today’s arena. They produce unique talents, by encouraging the originality and individuality of each student. I believe that to be successful in fashion, creativity must go hand in hand with a pragmatic and realistic approach; I would like to use this initiative to encourage a dialogue between these two elements, giving the winners a useful opportunity to succeed and move forward in their careers.’ Bravo!
Emporio Armani, 51-52 New Bond Street.