A few months back, I went to visit Giorgio Armani at his home, a gargantuan temple of beautiful beige tones in the center of Milan. I decided to spice up the situation by wearing a car crash of patterns just to see what the master of minimalism would have to say about my maximalist tendencies. Would he call the fashion police? Would he throw me out of the house? Read on to find out.
JJ: Mr. Armani, I have come to confess that I love pattern and color and I’m a bit of a maximalist.
GA: [laughs] A maximalist?!?
JJ: Yes, it’s a bit of a problem so I wanted your opinion on my tendency to mix pattern and print since it’s not really your school of fashion.
GA: The Armani school is the Armani school. You can dress in another direction if you want. This is just your way of blowing off steam and letting go of your tension.
JJ: Totally! You understand me so well. Look at this! [I pull off my camel sweater to flash a vintage YSL polka-dot silk shirt worn with a crazy clashing patterned Mary Katranzou skirt]
GA: I like your skirt—it’s fun. You put yourself together well today. Dai!
JJ: I didn’t want to scare you so I put my plain sweater over the casino so as not give you a heart attack.
GA: You did well.
GA: But I see you dressed in another way.
JJ: How thrilling! How would you like to see me?
GA: As a woman dressed in menswear—but in a sexy way. You need a men’s shirt unbuttoned low. You could wear a jacket and pants or a jacket with a skirt to mid-calf.
JJ: Does it have to be navy blue?
GA: No, you could have some other colors. Like camel. Or grey.
JJ: I’m obsessed with prints.
GA: But now you’ve reached your saturation and you want to change a bit, no?
JJ: Um….. maybe.
GA: Well, that’s easy. It’s always easier to go in that direction. Moving towards a classic way of dressing is always easier. It’s less controversial. When you start pairing prints it becomes very difficult to do well. I’ve done it before for women. But you don’t notice because I do one look, not the whole show like that. I don’t do the Prada squares everywhere. I’ve always tried to create a certain osmosis between prints so that you only see one when you look at it. This is my secret.
JJ: Let’s get back to you, Mr. Armani. You always wear navy. How much do I need to pay you to dress head to toe in red?
GA: [Laughs!] There’s no chance of seeing me in red. But you might be able to convince me to wear some muted Indian tones like mauve or dark purples. There’s a slim chance!
JJ: How long has it been since you’ve worn a pattern?
GA: I can’t remember—maybe the 1970s. It all ended there.
JJ: What? Why?
GA: I don’t really feel like someone who can wear “fashion” well. If I were tall and thin maybe those things would slide on easier.
JJ: I think you look pretty damn good. But I plan on sending you a mauve sweater for Christmas.l
Dai- come on!
– J.J. Martin