A highlight of the first weekend of the 80th Venice International Film Festival was seeing Giorgio Armani appear on the catwalk, visibly excited, moved, smiling and proudly satisfied with his work. He then advanced graceful and happy, in his impeccable blue tuxedo holding hands with the model Agnese Zogla.
The moment was experienced by the more than 500 guests at Armani’s One Night Only event, where the world of cinema flocked to pay homage to King Giorgio, with guests including Sophia Loren, who has always been his beloved friend, accompanied by her son Edoardo Ponti, actor Benicio Del Toro, actress Jessica Chastain, and directors Ang Lee, Gabriele Salvatores and Giuseppe Tornatore.
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The standing ovation lasted several minutes from an audience composed of numerous couples from the Italian film star system: from Sergio Castellitto and Margaret Mazzantini and Pierfrancesco Favino and Anna Ferzetti to Raul Bova and Rocio Munoz Morales to Kasia Smutniak and Domenico Procacci. Other stars and directors spotted in the crowd were Kerry Washington, Lucas Bravo, Lukas Gage, Sydney Sweeney, Sadie Sink, Louis Garrel, Regé-Jean Page, Shu Qi, Ava DuVernay, Luca Guadagnino and Ferzan Ozpetek. The night proved that fashion and cinema, meeting in the city of the festival, can generate an evening of absolute wonder, even if only for one night, as the sign at the entrance read, “Welcoming guests from all over.”
Sixty-five models walked the catwalk inside the Arsenale, the restored old complex of shipyards and workshops near the venues of the Venice Biennale. In the evocative setting of the Tese delle Nappe event venue, Giorgio Armani, 89 years young, presented a reinterpretation of Armani Privé’s last Paris fashion show, which had a harlequin theme. The runway also featured the addition of some precious Venice-inspired gowns, a tribute to the lagoon city much loved by the designer from Piacenza. Parading down the catwalk under the historic columns and arches were long evening gowns in various shades of color, from blue, green and turquoise to black, covered with crystals or with ruffs with geometric motifs to recall the world’s most famous mask in a stunning display of one-of-a-kind craftsmanship.
As singer-songwriter Kelsea Ballerini, one of the night’s guests, told THR, “The moment of the night was watching Mr. Armani himself take his lap around the runway getting showered with praise and respect — goosebumps,” adding that “the pieces were stunning.”
Until now Armani’s “One Night Only” event had touched seven metropolises: London in 2006, Tokyo in 2007, Beijing in 2012, Rome and New York in 2013, Paris in 2014 and Dubai in 2021, this year it was Venice’s turn. What better time than during the Venice Film Festival, where Armani Beauty is a main sponsor? And who more appropriate than Armani, whose passion born was as a boy, then cultivated and meticulously consolidated over time by dressing celebrities on the world’s most prestigious red carpets and designing the costumes for films that have become iconic, among them American Gigolo. And who else can boast of a documentary dedicated to him, Made in Milan, by Martin Scorsese, which premiered at the fest back in 1990?
Venice also wished to honor him the day before the show by awarding him the Golden Lion in Murano glass received from the hands of the city’s mayor Luigi Brugnaro, who said, “I wanted to recognize the man, his commitment and his great passion for beauty, which he has been able to transform into a successful enterprise, the symbol of Made in Italy in the world.”
“I was very touched by the city’s gesture. The statue was not gold, but I was still quite happy,” joked Armani, in a touching pre-show lecture in Italian. “From my first visit, I was thunderstruck by Venice and all its colors. It is a dreamy paradise … with a decadent atmosphere. Yet it conveys a certain sense of unique elegance,” said the designer, who celebrated the occasion with a super party on Sept. 1 a yacht moored in Riva San Biasio.
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