Giorgio Armani opens the button on the cuff of his navy cashmere jacket and loosens the brown alligator strap of his limited-edition white gold Borgo 21 watch. Its a muggy day in Paris and, as he watches final rehearsals for his haute-couture womenswear show, the Italian designer is feeling the heat.
The stakes in the couture business are high. Persuading a dwindling coterie of customers to part with £50,000 for a back-baring cocktail jacket in Chantilly lace with spilling black mink and Swarovski crystal butterfly buttons is tough at the best of times. But, for the Italian designer, flogging togs to toffs is about to get tougher.
Next month he will take fashion into uncharted territory by becoming the first designer to launch couture for men. Men need couture just as women do something made exclusively for them to define their social position, he said.