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La Famiglia: Roberta Armani

Profiles
Roberta Armani.

By Rachel Felder

Since the 1970s, the name Armani has been synonymous with sleek and sophisticated fashion—the type of timeless, quietly chic pieces that look stylish and appropriate for just about any occasion. These days, the brand includes an executive who perfectly embodies that sensibility: Roberta Armani, a niece of the company’s founder Giorgio, who oversees the brand globally, including the vital job of celebrity relations.

In a sense, Roberta Armani is the personification of many of the brand’s most loyal customers: working women who are busy, social, fashionable and juggle plenty of responsibilities, often on the road. Her integral role at Armani means that she has a hand in, amongst other things, global strategy, photo shoots, events, openings and working with the brand’s many celebrity fans. “As for a typical day, that doesn’t really exist,” she says. “I do travel a lot throughout the year, but it is something I don’t take for granted, as other cultures, languages, people and points of view are one of the most rewarding things in life. They make us better people.”

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Roberta Armani joined the family company when she was just 17, taking on a job that was decidedly unglamorous: working on the sales floor at the Emporio Armani store in New York. “I came to learn the business from up-close, especially from the retail and customer side, which is a core aspect of how to improve yourself and your products,” she recalls.

I wanted to understand how everything worked, every step of the process, from design to production to distribution to marketing.”

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Over 25 years later, a key facet of her position is working directly with celebrities, including everyone from George Clooney to Katie Holmes to Lady Gaga, doing everything from finding the perfect Armani pieces for those boldfaced names to wear on the red carpet to keeping them company in the front row of fashion shows to (in the unique case of Holmes) helping her find the perfect wedding location (naturally, the bride wore Armani). “When we deal with more high-profile people who are in the eye of the world and the media, it’s certainly a challenge sometimes, but it’s one that is gratifying as much as it is fun,” Armani says. “You really have to bring together psychology, the ability to communicate and a sense of style. It’s usually about trying to create harmony with the Armani look. The clothes, with their elegant and sophisticated lines, help me a lot.”

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Giorgio Armani was one of the first designers to work closely with celebrities for red carpet wear—something that is now commonplace. “The connection between fashion, celebrities, brands, public relations and high-profile individuals has become its own industry today,” she says. “It’s quite intriguing to see how that continues to change every day. But since we were the first ones to make the real connection between fashion and the world of entertainment, I feel that a lot of our work is based on wonderful friendships and relationships—true, personal and lasting ones—which make our day-to-day much easier. Everything is less spontaneous and a lot more strategic and planned, but at the end of the day, style is style, elegance is elegance, comfort is comfort and Armani is always relevant.”

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She’s unquestionably motivated, and devoted to the company, but, inevitably, it’s easy to wonder if the famous last name weighs heavily on her. “It does on occasion, but only if you place too much importance on it,” she says. “We have to focus on the bigger picture.“

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Roberta Armani isn’t the only family member focusing on that picture: her sister Silvana also works for the company on the design side, as does her cousin Andrea. Although she’s always worked for the family business (in various capacities, even as a model at one point), she acknowledges that it’s a special experience. “The difference is basically involvement,” she explains. “You feel twice the responsibility, but also twice the involvement. It is part of who you are, part of your identity and with that comes the love of doing it and the passion.”

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At the helm, of course, is Giorgio Armani himself, undeniably one of the most influential designers of the last 50 years. “My uncle is a man who made himself without anyone’s help, and his example is an essential one,” she says. “This taught me the value of dedication and something that follows me every day in everything I do. I learned from him the ethics of commitment, integrity and hard work: I couldn’t have asked for a better lesson, but every day I learn from him. He inspires and energizes me. “ She is also, incidentally, constantly inspired by her uncle’s designs as well. “They give you the ability to always let yourself feel like your best self,” she says, which is—from anyone, even a member of a world-renowned fashion family—high praise indeed.

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