Allow me to share some behind the scene's not just about this shoot but also about the long relationship between Giorgio Armani and myself. If you have read my bio then you know that I was not well versed in high fashion growing up on a farm in West Texas. Somehow, even out in the sticks I had heard of Giorgio Armani. That is why I was so thrilled to be hired for my first ever show in New York by this iconic brand in the summer of 1996. That is how it all started.
I went from that show to working for the brand in the showroom. (Side note on showrooms for those that don't know. It is not the top of the profession, and it does not matter the brand. It consists of walking around in a showroom full of buyers from various retailers as they make the selection of what they think will sell the best for their markets. No press, not much money, when compared to catalogs or advertising work in the modeling industry, and it's all day every day for a couple of weeks more like a temporary office job). The Armani showroom in New York City was in a nice office building on the North side right of Bryant Park. I was new to the city at the time but I already loved Bryant park which of course has on its East side the New York City Public Library, both the park and the library were places I had quickly come to love. So to me working in an office building for the only real major fashion label that I had ever heard of up to that point being as I was straight out of the barn more or less. I was happy with the pay they were giving me and happy to be working inside in the air conditioning for a few weeks in the summer.
Now, I did not know it at the time, because New York was the only market I had ever been in up to that point in my career that was almost 6 months old, but in most showrooms the models were not treated well. I had done some other modeling work and you were always treated well, good food and considerate working conditions, so the nice lunches at the Giorgio Armani showroom the endless coffee, juice and water. The freedom to step out for an hour or so every once in a while to go see another clients for other possible work I thought was very pleasant but nothing special. It was years later, after hearing from other models that worked in other showrooms around the world that I learned how good I had it back then. The other models could not believe how much it paid or how well I was treated. I heard some horror stories but now is not the time for that. It was with this showroom money I was able to finance the real start of my career.
Throughout the years I have continued to be fortunate enough to work with Giorgio Armani. I never did the showroom again but I have done more shows than I can count. It was always fun walking the catwalk of Mr. Armani in Milan regardless of which line it was for or if I was part of the dramatic opening or not, it has always been a pleasure. I have also enjoyed shooting various projects over the years from Look Books for the numerous lines all the way to Armani Golf.
Recently I have been inspired by the sustainability initiatives of Giorgio Armani S.p.A. and the Social Responsibility transparency that they have brought out throughout all aspects of the brand as a whole.
Made to Measure by Giorgio Armani is part of the pact to make fashion slower and loved. This shoot had Donny Lewis written all over it. The theme of chess and the Armani Casa Chess board are perfect for me. I love chess and have since I was a little boy back in Texas playing with my brothers and my Dad, all the way through all of my travels and the little chess board I carried with me to play whomever I could find to play against. Many of us in 2020 watched the Netflix show The Queen's Gambit which influenced or inspired part of this shooting that was beautifully photographed by Giulio Rustichelli and filmed by Andrea Dones. The timeless Armani elegance is always at the core of the idea of every shooting. That elegance mixed with the familial working environment in a turbulent unpredictable year reminds me again to be thankful for all of these years from the beginning of my career to now.
So I leave you with the video and hope that we all remember to be thankful for those that have helped and pushed us along our path.