Wednesday, September 5
I arrive in Dallas after a 10-hour flight. I slept for about five hours—luckily I can sleep without sleeping pills—and I feel okay. The last time I came here was 25 years ago, to launch my first fragrance, and I am curious to see how the place has changed.
First impressions: Everything is so big. I’ve read that the airport is bigger than Manhattan, and on the road into town I am struck by the size of the trucks, the buildings, the freeways. Welcome to Texas!
We move in a cavalcade, me in a black Lincoln limo, and my design team in black SUVs. Because my crew tend to wear black suits, white shirts and black ties, they always look like security, and in this setting it feels strangely presidential. The impression is reinforced when we pull up outside Neiman Marcus on Commerce Street, where I am met by a delegation comprising cops, Karen Katz, the president and CEO of Neiman Marcus Stores, and Burt Tansky, the president and CEO of the Neiman Marcus Group.
Hundreds of employees and customers have formed a tunnel through the store and are cheering and clapping.
They lead me up the steps and…wow: Hundreds of employees and customers have formed a tunnel through the store and are cheering and clapping. Now I really do feel like Giorgio Bush, rather than Giorgio Armani! It’s extraordinary. I wave and shake hands as I’m led to the Giorgio Armani shop-in-shop.
I am in Dallas to put on a charity show at Neiman Marcus, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The guest list has been drawn up by the Crystal Charity Ball, an organization that raises millions of dollars for children’s charities. It’s a good cause, and I like the idea of showing my fall collection to customers for a change, rather than press and buyers. I also like department stores as I feel at home in them. It was a department store—Milan’s grand old retailer La Rinascente—that gave me my entrée into fashion as a teenager, hiring me as a window dresser.
Neiman Marcus has been a great supporter of mine for more than two decades, and the place is a legend. When he ran the business, Stanley Marcus introduced many innovative ideas. In an inspired piece of marketing, he started offering the most incredible things each holiday season in the store’s Christmas catalog: his-and-hers airplanes, ancient Egyptian sarcophagi, a “Noah’s ark” with pairs of endangered species aboard that cost $588,247. I don’t think anyone bought it. At the Armani area the Neiman Marcus people tell me that business is good, and I tell them that the light on the Armani signage is not properly centered. I know that people think I interfere in everything, but I am a perfectionist, and I can’t help myself. This attitude is what keeps Armani strong. I am still passionate about what I do—about every detail.