30 years of Armani onscreen: AMERICAN GIGOLO to STEALING BEAUTY and beyond

Nothing says sharp like a man in a Giorgio Armani suit. And the ladies usually look pretty good in his duds, too. The Italian designer has lent those fine lines to more than a hundred feature films, including a few modern classics. And because Il Maestro has remained current for more than three decades, the wardrobes in these five films have come to define more than just the characters who wore them.

Armani provided nearly all of Julian’s (Richard Gere) gigolo attire, from his underwear to his formal wear. The film was as big a boon to the designer as it was to Gere — it helped establish his labels in the U.S. Armani’s Italian brand of casual-seeming elegance helped define a protagonist who was all about style over substance. AMERICAN GIGOLO, without a doubt, helped Armani come to define ’80s fashion. From the unstructured linen suits to the boxer briefs, this is what cool American men wore (or aspired to wear) during the Reagan era.

To this day, Richard Gere can, allegedly, walk into any Armani shop in the world and take anything he wants.

For most of his film projects, Armani works with a costume designer and only provides looks for specific characters. But Il Maestro took on complete costume designer responsibility for fellow Italian auteur Dario Argento. It’s hard to believe Armani was OK with all of that blood splattering across his lovely, oversize, tailored shirts. I guess when it’s a young Jennifer Connelly wearing said shirts, that sort of thing is allowed.

I kind of wish the chimpanzee wore an Armani suit.

It’s a gangster movie set in the 1930s, but THE UNTOUCHABLES (which you can watch tonight at 8P on Sundance channel) sure did feature a lot impeccable tailoring. Director Brian De Palma tapped Armani to oversee the costumes on his gangster epic to make sure everyone from Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) to Al Capone (Robert De Niro) looked just right.

No word on whether Armani also designed the silk underwear De Niro insisted on wearing.

The costumes for Bernardo Bertolucci’s STEALING BEAUTY (airing on Sundance Channel Sunday at 10P) are a time capsule for 1996, especially Lucy’s (Liv Tyler) grunge-inspired outfits. She shows up in Italy wearing her jeans with a flannel and rocks out to Hole’s “Rock Star” in a baby-doll dress. Lucy is looking for answers about her mother’s past and her heart’s future, and her wardrobe sets the tone.

Some people consider this Liv Tyler’s breakout role, but I think history will prove that was really EMPIRE RECORDS.

Armani supplied Bruce Wayne’s (Christian Bale) bespoke suits for both THE DARK KNIGHT and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. They even featured a custom label “Giorgio Armani for Bruce Wayne.” Method actors, amiright?

Armani also dressed THE DARK KNIGHT RISES’ supporting cast, including some spiffy duds for Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman). He looked all right, but he looks better in Prada.

Tune into Sundance Channel for THE UNTOUCHABLES tonight at 8P and STEALING BEAUTY Sunday at 10P .