Giorgio Armani is back at Via Sant’Andrea 9 in Milan, in the first boutique he opened in 1983, expanded and completely reinvented to aptly express the DNA of the maison

“There’s no end. There’s no beginning. Only the infinite passion for life.” These are the words of Federico Fellini, but they also work for Giorgio Armani. He started here, and here he returns: Giorgio Armani reopens the store on Via Sant’Andrea, where he created his first boutique in 1983, on a quiet and very Milanese street in the so-called Fashion Quad, synonymous with international style and luxury. From 2010 to 2017 the space contained the Armani/Casa line, now celebrating its first 20 years in the store on Corso Venezia at the corner of Via San Damiano. Today, in the reinvented ‘location’ in the fashion district, on four levels with a total area of 1200 square meters – twice as large as the original – Giorgio Armani links up the threads of his professional career in a structured, detailed and integrated universe, from fashion (foremost here) to product design (Armani/Casa), architecture to interior design (in the world and at this site).

As demonstrated by the video walls at every level and the four interactive screens at the entrance, with images of this season’s offerings. “I return her today with a different experience, aware that this is not a matter of nostalgia. I wanted the quintessence of my vision of timeless beauty to enter a dialogue with the contemporary world, ranging from accessories to prêt-à-porter, all the way to fine tailoring, with exclusive bespoke services,” he says. “I don’t make particular distinctions between my various activities. I am interested in them all, in the same way, because I have created an entire lifestyle, which starts from fashion but includes much else. Fashion dresses the body, but the body lives in space, and architecture dresses that space, as well as embodying it: for me, that is the magic triangle. I might add that architecture is permanent, almost, and responds to the need for timelessness that also exists in my fashion. I devote much of my day to interior design projects, but everything mixes and blends, and this is why my work is consistent and organic. I like the delicacy of certain colors combined with the refinement of textures, for example, and it matters not if it is a rare marble or silk. Often the work in one field reverberates in another, as is only fitting.”

As demonstrated by the video walls at every level and the four interactive screens at the entrance, with images of this season’s offerings. “I return her today with a different experience, aware that this is not a matter of nostalgia. I wanted the quintessence of my vision of timeless beauty to enter a dialogue with the contemporary world, ranging from accessories to prêt-à-porter, all the way to fine tailoring, with exclusive bespoke services,” he says. “I don’t make particular distinctions between my various activities. I am interested in them all, in the same way, because I have created an entire lifestyle, which starts from fashion but includes much else. Fashion dresses the body, but the body lives in space, and architecture dresses that space, as well as embodying it: for me, that is the magic triangle. I might add that architecture is permanent, almost, and responds to the need for timelessness that also exists in my fashion. I devote much of my day to interior design projects, but everything mixes and blends, and this is why my work is consistent and organic. I like the delicacy of certain colors combined with the refinement of textures, for example, and it matters not if it is a rare marble or silk. Often the work in one field reverberates in another, as is only fitting.”

Armani has orchestrated the project firsthand, day after day, down to the smallest details, with his highly qualified and specialized team (in the design of hotels, restaurants, shops and residences: a true studio of 30 people, as well as 15 others working on interior design), instead of turning to big names in architecture as he has done in the past. His constantly fresh perspective is immediately perceptible from the outside of the boutique, which interrupting the classic frontage of the street, the dense series of historic buildings concealing secret gardens, presets itself in a balanced way with the image of a glass box, enhanced by the platinum-color finish of the upper levels and a surprising base in green Fantastico granite.

The lucid formal order of this dynamic ‘matrioshka’ is also the result of the linear, rigorous furnishings placed along the walls, with their built-in lights and dark borders in eucalyptus wood, accents of an elegance from the 1930s and 1940s."

As in a clever puzzle, the geometric lines of the base become two lateral passages at ground level, through which to reach the internal portico, which is both an entrance and a showcase, enhanced by evocative checked flooring in large slabs of multicolored marble and onyx. Applied in the internal spaces in keeping with the different display zones, this effect eloquently defines the layout of the boutique, the changes of pace and narrative sequences of other boxes cut into the overall volume to contain: on the ground floor, the women’s collection of clothing and accessories, and the Armani Beauty corner with make-up stations; on the first floor, the men’s collection and formalwear; on the second, the eveningwear, the Made to Order and Made to Measure services, and the gift zone with the most precious objects of Armani/Casa, for the most exclusive luxury.

Each space has its own distinct material-chromatic mood (on the ground floor alone, for example, we find green Antigua marble, green Fantastico granite and gray-green onyx from Iran, Velluto onyx from Turkey, Port Laurent marble from Morocco, Lemurian granite from Madagascar, Corteccia quartzite from Brazil, Blue Sky marble from China), also expressed by other elements that punctuate and shape the connective fabric in a rhythmical way: from the platinum-color doors with mother-of-pearl to the silk paper coverings of the walls up to the ceilings, which echo the colors and grains of the other materials. The lucid formal order of this dynamic ‘matrioshka’ is also the result of the linear, rigorous furnishings placed along the walls, with their built-in lights and dark borders in eucalyptus wood, accents of an elegance from the 1930s and 1940s, rendered fluid by the luminosity of the platinum-tone metal tables, in resin with a fabric effect, and the smaller ones in pear wood and mother-of-pearl, with handmade inlays by Italian artisans.

Balanced luminosity is another major theme of the project: the light from the large perimeter windows is never direct, but always filtered and shaped by thin vertical gilded metal screens. The glass volume at the first floor is also protected by these diaphanous elements, with a checked floor in green Antigua marble and green Fantastico granite, surrounded by bamboo plants, an Armani favorite, to create a sort of ‘winter garden.

I return her today with a different experience, aware that this is not a matter of nostalgia. I wanted the quintessence of my vision of timeless beauty to enter a dialogue with the contemporary world, ranging from accessories to prêt-à-porter, all the way to fine tailoring, with exclusive bespoke services."

On the second level the space is made dynamic by six glass doors that open to the skylight of the glazed volume below, and by the three openings on Via Sant’Andrea that offer a privileged view of the Baroque frieze on the 16th-century Palazzo Morando across the street. Glimpses and perspectives, progressive discoveries and correspondences of a unique place, where the basement is equally unique in its arrangement as a sort of mini-theater for presentations (with 78 seats), immersed in the soft grain of Velluto onyx and walls in silk with the same tone.

As for the vertical connections, alongside the elevators the movement between the levels of the boutique happens in a unified way with the by-now iconic rectilinear ‘Armani-ized’ staircases, totally clad here in Velluto onyx (including the lower surface of the steps), with details in gold-color metal, where the clear, regular profiles constitute a recognizable stylistic touch of Giorgio Armani. After all, as he says, “elegance is not about getting noticed, but about being remembered.”

Project Giorgio Armani - Photos Beppe Raso/courtesy of Giorgio Armani Archive