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Giorgio Armani: A Retrospective

03/09/2003, By The Royal Academy

Reader Rating: 2.9 from 19978 votes

This autumn the Royal Academy of Arts will present the exhibition Giorgio Armani: A Retrospective in its new space at Burlington Gardens. Organised by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in cooperation with the Royal Academy of Arts, this major exhibition will explore the career of the internationally renowned fashion designer, Giorgio Armani. Featuring over 400 garments, alongside original sketches and video presentations, the exhibition offers a thematic look at Armani and his development over the last three decades.

The exhibition examines the cultural and sociological impact of Armmani's designs on contemporary culture and highlights his pioneering involvement with cinema. Originally presented at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 2000, and at the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, in 2001, the exhibition is currently on show at the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, at the start of its five-venue tour.

Giorgio Armani: A Retrospective will be the first major exhibition to be presented at Burlington Gardens and the unique site-specific installation, designed by the acclaimed artist and theatre director, Robert Wilson, will provide a spectacular setting for Armani's designs. The exhibition is made possible by the support of Mercedes-Benz.

Giorgio Armani is recognised as one of the most influential and iconic designers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He has been universally credited with both radically changing the rules of contemporary fashion and creating a timeless vision of modern dress. By removing excess ornament and translating traditional sportswear looks into business and evening wear; Armani has developed the contemporary casual style that defines the modern wardrobe.

More than 400 garments will be presented in an innovative display, exploring the depth and range of Armani's work. Original sketches and video presentations of historical material will complement the outfits, charting the evolution of Armani's designs from their early stages as ideas to the carefully orchestrated final presentation.

Arranged thematically, the exhibition at the Royal Academy will highlight clothes from various periods of Armani's career, from the early 1980s, when he began to achieve prominence, up to his most recent designs for the autumn and spring collections 2003/4. One section will explore the pivotal impact of Armani's designs on the modern, androgynous look, presenting the designer's groundbreaking deconstructed jacket, which evolved into soft, sensual suits for both men and women. The exhibition will also examine the influence of Eastern and North African cultures on Armani's work, as well as the designer's emphasis on the 'non-colour' palette, which has contributed to his reputation for subtle elegance.

Film imagery has a strong impact on both Armani's clothing designs and advertising campaigns, while Armani's designs for films, such as American Gigolo, have a lasting influence on modern style. The exhibition will explore Armani's relationship with the entertainment industry, with particular reference to the Academy Awards and the films for which he has created wardrobes, presenting many of the evening ensembles he has created for Oscar ceremonies throughout his career.


The installation will be designed by the acclaimed artist and theatre director Robert Wilson, who also designed the installation at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and most recently at the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin. A dramatic combination of architectural elements, light, music and customised mannequins, Robert Wilson's installation will be specifically designed for the Royal Academy's new space in Burlington Gardens. Wilson's innovative use of materials and distinctive treatment of each of the thematic sections will enhance and highlight the many aspects of Armani's vision.

Previously, Robert Wilson has had retrospective exhibitions of his work at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston. Additionally, he has mounted installations at the Museum Boymans-van Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Venice Biennale, and the Rotonda della Besana in Milan.


This exhibition is organised by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in cooperation with the Royal Academy of Arts. The exhibition is co-curated by Germano Celant, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and Harold Koda, Curator-in- Charge at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Susan Cross, Associate Curator, and Karole Vail, Assistant Curator. Celant has organised a number of exhibitions that express his interest in the fusion of artistic languages, including The Italian Metamorphosis, 7943-7968 (1994), which featured an extensive costume section, and Art/Fashion (1997), which examined the dialogue between the two disciplines. Koda has co- organised numerous significant costume exhibitions, including Haute Couture (1995) and Christian Dior (1996), Dress Rehearsal (2007), Extreme Beauty (2001), and Goddess (2003) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Press View: Tuesday 14 October 2003, 10am - 2pm
Open to public: Saturday 18 October 2003 - Sunday 15 February 2004 10am - 6pm (last admission 5.30pm)
Late night opening: Fridays until 10pm (last admission 9.30pm)


9.00 full price; 8.00 groups of 10+, 60 years+ and registered disabled, 6.00 NUS and ISIC cardholders.


Tickets are available daily at the RA. To book tickets in advance please Visit Their Website. Groups of 10 or more are asked to book in advance, please Telephone: +44 (0)20 7300 5995, Fax: +44 (0)20 7300 5781 or E-Mail.

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