| Giorgio Armani
London, Nov. 30: Giorgio Armani has decided not to give his traditional Christmas gifts to the world’s fashion editors and will use the money instead to donate nearly a quarter of a million pounds to Down’s syndrome charities.
The 69-year-old Italian designer said that instead of their usual “self-indulgent” presents, which last year included luggage and handbags, fashion writers would receive a Christmas card supporting a new campaign on behalf of Down’s syndrome charities.
The card will carry a photograph of Armani, instantly recognisable with his white thatch and tanned complexion, with his arm around Antonella, a six-year-old girl from Rome who has Down’s syndrome.
Armani’s decision has provoked a mixed response from fashion writers. Most have openly applauded him but others — perhaps stung by the loss of their annual perks — have dismissed his gesture as a “cynically-motivated marketing campaign”.
One senior fashion writer, who did not want to be named, said: “This is supposed to be giving to the needy rather than the greedy, but I think it is cynical. The money for the gifts came from marketing budgets and so does this campaign. I don’t believe it will make Giorgio Armani more popular in the fashion world, whether or not others follow his example.”
Armani shrugged off the criticism, however, and insisted that his campaign in support of Down’s children would be popular. “Even fashion editors have hearts,” he said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.
“I do not believe that any fashion editor would be unhappy about this decision. I am sure they will be delighted when they learn of the cause the money will support.”
“It felt more appropriate to think beyond the sometimes self-indulgent worlds of fashion and the media, and instead to make an attempt to help others.”
Sue Buckley, the director of the Down’s Syndrome Educational Trust, which will receive £40,000 from the Italian designer, applauded his decision. Buckley, who has adopted a child with Down’s syndrome, said: “I am delighted he is raising the profile of our charity and the condition.”
The donation by Armani, who owns the international fashion house that carries his name, will match the money raised in the overall campaign, to be launched tomorrow.
Armani said that he had been moved to support Down’s syndrome after he was photographed with Antonella for Io Donna, the magazine supplement of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
“Until I met Antonella I had never come close to Down’s,” he said. “After I spent time with her I really started to understand. I was captivated by her sweet personality and moved to start playing a more active role in supporting Down’s charities.”
He said that he had also been inspired by the story of Paula Sage, a British actress who starred in the film Afterlife, which had its premiere last month. “Paula has Down’s syndrome and she plays a character with Down’s,” explained Armani.
“Historically, directors have cast actors without disabilities to play characters with them — such as Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot — but the director of this film, Alison Peebles, decided to cast Paula. This is true progress.”
Sally Brampton, who launched and edited Elle magazine between 1985 and 1990, said that the culture of giving generously to fashion editors was “a hangover from the 1980s”.
“I think most fashion editors actually find it embarrassing and anachronistic. In the past editors would receive very expensive gifts of clothes or bags,” she said.