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How Armani and American Gigolo Forever Changed the Men’s Suit into a Sex Symbol

The 1980 blockbuster reinvented the wardrobe staple and put Giorgio Armani on the map…

The escort Richard Gere portrayed in the 1980 movie American Gigolo had a proclivity for handsomely tailored suits. In one scene, he meticulously lays his clothes out on the bed, taking pleasure and satisfaction in matching the right necktie and accessories with his suit. Gere’s stylish attire played a pivotal role in establishing his character as an upscale playboy with an appreciation for the finer things in life. It also marked a watershed moment for the then-little-known Italian designer Giorgio Armani.

Commissioned to design clothing for the film, Armani created lightweight suits that appeared more like a second skin and allowed Gere to move and strut his stuff with ease. His confidence and clothing helped make Gere the sex symbol of the day—and inspired a generation of men to mimic his Armani-created style.

Armani deconstructed his suits by removing restrictive shoulder pads and forming naturally shaped shoulders, a sharp contrast to the stiff jackets that had been the norm for decades. He also rid them of their heavy interlinings, creating lightweight silhouettes and offering more comfort and freedom of movement. There was no turning back. The style influenced tailors from London’s Savile Row to New York, and the men’s suit—and the Armani brand—would never be the same.

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