The first time I bumped into something labelled Armani I was about eleven or twelve.
At that age, any kid is into collections.
It was the late 1990s and, as far as I can remember, I was accumulating a whole lot of – basically – rubbish including soft drink cans, random postcards, stones, small dolls, beach sand, stamps, movie posters, bottle caps, shells, sea glass, pictures of Take That, Kinder Surprise toys, Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories, Hello Kitty gadgets, hairpins and telephone cards.
In the 1990s, mobile phones weren’t as accessible as they are today, at least not in Italy, and prepaid phone cards represented a good advertising opportunity for businesses; a lot of artistically beautiful phone cards were being issued, which in turn created a vast market for collectors.
Rare pieces could even get extremely expensive.
Italians of any age, shape and form bought into the collecting mania. Kids my age would swap cards at school. We boasted about new findings, we accurately mapped local telephone booths and embarked on articulated afternoon expeditions. At the time, you could even find two or three expired cards in each telephone booth at a time.
Nowadays, Italy is getting rid of nearly all its public phone devices; official messages are being left on the cubicles saying something like We are going to remove this phone booth. If you don’t want it removed tell us why.
Unlike the Bris, Italians don’t believe in the power of the newspaper complaint letter (nor in the newspaper itself) and unlike the French, they easily surrender to the evidence of public services being dismantled without a word from authorities, so call boxes are being dismissed all across the country, without anyone – not even a single newspaper, you see – giving a tinker’s damn.
The bastards also removed my favourite one in my neighbourhood in Rome, but you know what – they’ll never be able to clear away the million secrets I shared with that phone booth.
And I’m sure that – wherever she is now – she’s still keeping those secrets safe.
Phone booths may listen to everybody, but they won’t cheat on you.
Keep it in mind the next time you get excited about your stupid new smartphone.
And so, one of the most wanted phone card ranges in the 1990s were the ones sponsored by Emporio Armani.
Armani phone cards were extremely precious and you would even have to offer as many as ten or fifteen pieces in exchange for just one of these. It goes without saying that – at that age – phone cards were the only Armani items you could afford to put your hands on.
One day, a guy I was not interested in offered me one of these Emporio Armani phone cards in exchange for a date.
I was dying for that particular card but I said no, so he gave the card to old Sara C. who said yes.
She didn’t go out with him at the end, but she kept the card.
That killed me.
A million years on, I still never finished my collection because of that card, but today I was eventually given the incredible honour to briefly interview Giorgio Armani about what women should wear at work.
It didn’t go too bad in the end, did it?
Sir, what is your current vision of the modern lady at work?
When it comes to women at work, my vision has changed over the last few years in line with the deep transformation of women’s role in modern society; women’s priorities have profoundly changed over the last few decades.
Has the way you design business attire for women changed over time?
At the very early stages, my brand was helping women feel important and well-respected in the workplace, back in a bygone era when such respect didn’t come for granted as it does today.
Has the situation improved today?
Fortunately, today the situation is different. Women are giving themselves permission to express their own femininity at work.
So, how should women dress for the workplace?
The traits of women according to Armani have not essentially changed: women are still mindful and determined to succeed, and what they look for in their outfits and fashion is a viable way to complement their own femininity, not to disguise themselves as women.
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