Fashion designer with models wearing his clothes
Armani with models at his spring/summer 2024 men’s ready-to-wear collection; courtesy of Giorgio Armani

Armani: master of design

Giorgio Armani has designed the new uniforms for the Renaissance Bar. He tells Lindsay Macpherson about his creative inspiration and love of the Engadin

Elegance is not about being noticed, it is about being remembered, according to one of the great Giorgio Armani’s most famous quotes. So, is it any wonder that the celebrated designer has a special affinity with Badrutt’s Palace? “It’s simply one of St. Moritz’s most famous landmarks,” he says of the storied hotel, which is as synonymous with style and illustrious guests as it is with winter sports. “It reminds me of a fairytale castle, and when covered in snow it has a magical quality,” adds Armani, who has a home in the Swiss mountain resort.

His ready-to-wear collections are available in his boutique at the hotel’s Palace Galerie, which he opened 10 years ago. “It’s a great location directly opposite Badrutt’s Palace, and it’s a modern space that echoes the 19th-century hotel building,” he says.

Most recently the design legend, with a legion of fans worldwide, has partnered with the hotel on an exciting collaboration to create the stylish new uniforms for the team at the Renaissance Bar. These exclusive Armani creations for Badrutt’s Palace, sketched left, fuse expert tailoring with just a hint of Italian sprezzatura, combining sartorial elegance with the designerg’s signature sense of ease. “I was channelling my ideas about elegance, to match the mood and spirit of the hotel, with practicality. These are ‘working’ clothes that need to perform and also keep the wearers comfortable,” he explains.  

It may be the first time that Armani has worked with the hotel, but it is not the first time he has made uniforms. “Most notably I have a history of dressing sports teams in team ‘uniforms’, and these days it includes the national Italian Olympic and Paralympic teams,” he says. “A hotel uniform, of course, is a different matter. But the aim is the same – to give the wearers a sense of communal identity that they can be proud of.”

Man relaxing on a leather chair
The Italian designer at his home in St. Moritz; courtesy of Giorgio Armani

Home in St. Moritz 

The Italian designer has been at the helm of his own label for 48 years: he is the founder, CEO, chairman, creative director and sole owner. His minimal sensibility is one of modern fashion’s most influential. He defines the Armani look as: “Timelessly modern. I evolve constantly, staying true to myself,” he says.  Today, at the age of nearly 90, the designer presides over an empire that spans womenswear, childrenswear, cosmetics and fragrance, homewares, hotels, nightclubs and more. He has stayed at the very top of his game for almost half a century. “Every now and then, however, it’s necessary to take a step back from the confusion and hectic pace of the city to recharge,” he says. “That’s the only way to prepare yourself to face new challenges.”

St. Moritz provides the perfect location to retreat. He adds: “It gives me the chance to enjoy the peace of the mountains, and, at the same time, whenever I want some society it’s just a few minutes away.” Although not a skier, Armani is a very keen walker and particularly enjoys earlymorning hikes. “I’ve always loved the mountains, both in winter and summer,” he adds. “The mountainous landscape and its muted colours and tranquillity is really relaxing and refreshing.” 

Armani has had a house in La Punt, just outside St. Moritz, since the early 1990s: it is a converted 17th-century building with attached haybarn, renovated in line with his exacting taste. The exterior was restored using local traditional methods, while the Japanese-influenced interiors feature furniture and furnishings from his Armani/Casa homeware line and his extensive travels. “I drew on two principal sources of inspiration: the classic Japanese mountain house and the work of the architect Rudolph Schindler, which is based on the correlation between interior and exterior,” he says. “It is essentially, though, a building intended to be a home.”

Man waving in snowy landscape with people in the background
Armani at his Neve show in St. Moritz; courtesy of Giorgio Armani

Skiwear relaunch

St. Moritz is also a source of creative inspiration for Armani. In the 1990s, he launched Neve: a skiwear line of stylish yet high-tech sportswear, après-ski outfits and transitional pieces. In 2018, he rebooted it, unveiling it with a star-studded catwalk show in St. Moritz. Last year, he celebrated the launch of his 2022/23 collection over three days in the Swiss town, including hosting a formal dinner at Badrutt’s Palace. He explains: “St. Moritz is an inspiration. Spending time around people who enjoy the snow and the mountains made me realise that there was an Armani take on this world that I wanted to explore. The slopes have always had fashions of their own. I wanted to translate my design aesthetic into clothing and accessories that would perform as functional skiwear.” Armani’s philosophy permeates everything he does.

He says: “It comes down to a process of subtraction… if you take things away you are left with what is essential and timeless: the perfect trouser suit, the fundamental jacket or coat, the ultimate black dress. These can be worn for many years without looking or feeling dated.” 

Sketches of men's designer fashion
Armani’s sketches of the Renaissance Bar uniforms; courtesy of Giorgio Armani

A pioneering vision 

Armani describes himself as anti-fashion. “The phenomena of fashion trends is wide and it can be important for the culture, for sure. I acknowledge them but respond in my own way. Consistency is my main strength. It reassures my clientele.” 

In recent years, his signature deconstructed suiting has found itself back on trend. “Ironically, the current focus on comfort chimes perfectly with my belief that tailoring should be easy to wear, unstructured and not remotely restrictive,” he says. “And at a time when leisurewear seems to reign supreme, people are rediscovering the joy of dressing elegantly again.” 

How would he like to define his legacy? “I would like to be remembered for my integrity and commitment,” he concludes. “And I do hope that I will be remembered for helping modern men and women look fashionable in a way that has nothing to do with transient trends, and everything to do with eternal style.” 

Shop at the Giorgio Armani St. Moritz boutique at Palace Galerie.

Barman serving drinks at a table
The stylish new Renaissance Bar uniform

Giorgio Armani’s top places in and around St. Moritz


In the winter months, make sure you try a hot chocolate or afternoon tea in Le Grand Hall at Badrutt’s Palace. I’d also recommend taking a horse sleigh ride from the nearby village of Pontresina into the Val Roseg. In any season, a visit to the charming hamlet of Sils Maria and its spectacularly beautiful lake is a real treat. 

Favourite dining spot

For dinner, I like to go to Chesa Veglia, which is St. Moritz’s oldest farmhouse. The atmosphere here is warm and the food regional, made with fresh ingredients, which are a must for me. 

Favourite walk

If you’re feeling energetic in the summer, there’s a lovely walk from the picturesque village of La Punt, with its 16th- and 17th-century homes, into St. Moritz itself; but be prepared – it is about 14 kilometres [8.5 miles].

Secret gems

There are many… but they are secret for a reason! I actually think that simply exploring the area is the best way to discover secrets for yourself.

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