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Roberta Armani on Uncle Giorgio, Lady Gaga and West Coast Road-Tripping

Niece of Giorgio Armani and, these days, more and more often the public face of the iconic Italian fashion house, Roberta Armani touched down in San Francisco recently to mingle with Bay Area VIPs during a private presentation of Armani’s spring collections held at Neiman Marcus. We caught up with Armani before the event to chat about the company’s recent work outfitting Lady Gaga, red carpet fashion, her uncle Giorgio and her experience road-tripping in California. 

Tell us about Armani’s recent collaboration with Lady Gaga.
I was responsible for that. In L.A., there were the American Music Awards, and they were on Sunday, and I had to be in New York again on Monday, so it was really crazy. I really had no time at all to go, but I said, no I have to go….She’s huge in Italy. Everyone goes crazy for her music, but I never saw her live. And so I saw her live and I thought, Oh my god. She was the most brilliant artist I’ve ever seen in my own life. But she’s such a mature person, talented. She’s 23, but is some who has lived many lives already in terms of her experience.

So I went back to Milan, and I said to my uncle, We have to dress Lady Gaga for the Grammy’s. Can I get in touch with her? And he was like, yes. So we got in touch, and she was so happy about it. She said, I love Armani. She was like, yes, please let’s work together. So my uncle created these looks for the Grammy’s. They were something that is very good for the young audiences, and, in a way, she’s such an amazing avant garde artist and my uncle is as well, so they meet at the other side of the circle, you know what I mean?

Is he a fan of hers?
Yes, he adores her. He loves the music.

Are you and your uncle similar?
I always like to say we’re two sides of the same coin, because he’s very shy and introverted, and I am very shy, too, but I can’t allow myself to be. I am always very open and love to get in touch with people and connect.

We noticed plenty of Armani gowns on the red carpet during the Oscars earlier this month. How do your gowns get on the celebrities that wear them?
We have celebrities that have been friends of the family for a long time, like Anne Hathaway or Michelle Pfeiffer or Penelope Cruz. So every time Oscar time comes, I call them and say do you need anything for the Oscars? And other times, they call. In this case, Jennifer Lopez called us after she saw the Armani Privé show on the Internet. She looked incredible. She’s so classically beautiful, but also so Latina, so Latin and passionate, so I love the way she interpreted the gown. We also dressed Amanda Seyfried, and she’s so different from Jennifer. But I loved the way she wore Armani Privé  in a completely different style.

We’ve read that you exclusively wear Armani. Do you have any favorite pieces in your wardrobe?
It’s easy to say the Armani jacket, but it’s the thing that changes throughout the years but always remains the same. It’s like a rock. And I always can put it on. It’s like my protection. Like the blanket you sleep with.

Is there one jacket in particular you love or do you have many favorites?
I get the jacket from multiple seasons. I love to combine it with different things. I love also to wear leather jackets. I think they’re very cool. If you wear them with a skirt with high heels, you’re very edgy. But if you wear them with sneakers and a pair of pants, you’re very cool. It’s like very easy nowadays to mix things up and interpret them. It’s easier for a woman to have fun. Also my uncle always says, don’t be a victim of the total look. Have fun and mix things up.

What do you think about trends? Are they important?
I like to see celebrities and women in the street that are not carried away by the gown they are wearing. You have to wear what you are wearing and be comfortable in it. If you are wearing it because you’re a fashion victim, and you don’t believe in it, it shows, and you’re not elegant. And elegant is a matter of the soul first.

Did you have a favorite Armani show from the recent fashion weeks?
The last show, in Paris. It was all very light colors, inspired by the moon, la luna.

What excites you about the fashion industry right now?
Quality is more important these days. Quality is more important than luxury, whereas for many years, people have been throwing away money to useless things without really paying attention….So now maybe people don’t buy three things at once, they buy one, but it’s something that lasts forever.

And I think nowadays what is really good about fashion is that you can mix an Armani jacket with a pair of H&M trousers and shoes from the market and you look great, and you can really mix things up.

We hear you spent last summer road-tripping through California.
I loved spending my summer in California. With my boyfriend, we took a Hummer, and we drove from here to L.A. and stopped, sleeping in Motel 6 along the roads and I had so much fun. We took bikes.

Do you have a favorite part of California?
I loved Big Sur, and Santa Cruz is my favorite. It’s so cool and easy and relaxed. People are so nice, everyone. They see you on the street and smile at you, but they don’t know you. It’s nice.