A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the future began. The future of fashion, that is. Of course, it wasn't quite so long ago (it was the 1970s), and it wasn't quite so far away (it was Milan, Italy). Right there and then, the world witnessed the birth of the sports coat. This one jacket spawned the beginnings of casual dress and semi-androgynous fashion. This may not seem so radical now, but think about what came before. Look back to the Vogue magazines of the mid-20th century: the clothes were spectacular and elegant with very fitted waists, skirts with crinolines, crisp lines in men's suits. It was a severe and dramatic look; the body was very contained, almost sculpted by the clothes. But the times were changing, and comfort was coming into its own, explicit in the hippie wares of the 1960s.
Along came Italian designer Giorgio Armani. He fused the softness of jeans and ponchos with more convention, and built a fashion empire from the deconstruction of the shape-shifting suits of the 1940s and '50s. Fashion publisher Patrick McCarthy explains, "His mission, a rather democratic mission at that, has been to return elegance to clothing without abandoning the ease and comfort that crept in during the 1960s." Armani, the catalog accompanying the exhibit at New York's Guggenheim Museum, showcases the designs of this now very famous fashion insider. From sportswear to glamour, the book traces the history and styles of Armani's last three decades. Chapters range from ideas about gender, world culture, and architecture to a most interesting essay on Armani's relationship with cinema (his rise to fame was very tied to the release of the film American Gigolo). The photographs range from magazine advertising and billboards to family and celebrity pictures to lineups of Armani-clothed mannequins. -- J.P. Cohen [via]