Giorgio Armani courts Russians with dazzling shows

Fri Oct 30, 2009 10:52am EDT
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By Lidia Kelly

MOSCOW (Reuters Life!) - Italian designer Giorgio Armani wowed Russian fashion-lovers with dazzling shows in Moscow this week, banking on a recovery for the world's fourth largest luxury goods buyer.

While others are still cautious about the crisis-hit Russian market, Armani was the first major designer in the last year to come to the Russian capital, betting its passion for fashion will help further expand his business there.

The 75-year-old designer hosted a special show of autumn/winter and Prive collections at the Barvikha luxury shopping center just outside Moscow, as well as another show at the Tsarist-era GUM shopping center near Red Square.

"Moscow is a very promising city from many points of view, but most definitely from the fashion point of view," the frail designer, recovered from a bout of hepatitis, told reporters.

Dressed in a black velvet suit, crisp white shirt and dark tie, Italy's "King of Fashion" heaped praise on Mother Russia: "The Russians became a model for excellence."

Armani has 10 stores in Russia -- for both Emporio and Giorgio Armani -- and more than 200 authorized points of sale, accounting for about 5 percent of the company's global wholesale revenue.

This is still less than half of what the Chinese market accounts for in terms of the group's revenues. GUM cashed in revenues of 15 million euros ($22 million) since opening last year, according to Konstantin Andricopoulos, commercial development director at GUM.

Hundreds of elegantly dressed fans crowded the Armani pavilion on Thursday night, sipping champagne and nibbling black caviar.   Continued...

<p>A model presents a creation by Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani during the Autumn Winter 2009-10 fashion show in a concert hall in Luxury Village in Barvikha outside Moscow, October 29, 2009. REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov</p>