ISMISM New concepts for the Nineties; No. 19: Armanism

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The Independent Online
Armani n, Italian tailoring of great expense favoured by those who believe that the primary purpose of clothing is to reveal that its wearer has a high disposable income. Easily recognisable by a fascination with its own trade-name, which is always prominently displayed. Such outfitting is often worn by those engaged in practices of a sharp nature: drug dealers, advertising executives, weather girls, Premier League fullbacks. In short, onanistic attire for onanists.

Armani, Emporio n, less astronomically expensive end of the clothing empire, patronised by those intimidated by the staff at the check-out of the main Armani stores. Emporio Armani clobber is frequently to be found on the sort of football hooligans who tend not to concern themselves with tills, preferring to help themselves.

Armani, Giorgio n, founder of the empire, a man said to be so unworldly he never carries cash. Thus he is suitably prepared for the sexual-favours- and-snout economy of prison, a place to which he may be en route following the revelation last week that he has been conducting his business in the traditional Italian manner, ie failing to get his wallet out to pay tax. (He claims he has been coughing up to pacify bent tax inspectors.) Presently said to be preparing a range of hard-wearing, robust, denim-based clothing for the next few seasons: convict chic.

Armani suit n, smart end of the Armani output, a two-piece item that comes, appropriately enough as it was designed by someone with no acquaintance with the practicalities of forking out, with the jacket pockets sewn up.

Though there is no direct evidence linking the wearing of Armani suits to acquaintance with the more evasive fringes of tax accountancy, they are generally to be found in the wardrobes of those engaged in professions where clothing is a tax-deductible item: television presenters, for instance. Also John Birt has several Armani suits.

Hence Armanism n, the process of being creative with your tax return forms while being smartly dressed. Prince Charles, perhaps not the first person you would associate with Armani, has recently revealed a talent for an Armanism. In the week that his subjects were appraised of the benefits of self-assessment for income tax returns, Prince Charles, it was announced, had finally acquainted himself with the more esoteric by-ways of the tax form. After years of volunteering 25 per cent of his income, the Prince, in a PR coup, announced last year that he was prepared to be taxed, like his subjects, at 40 per cent. By a curious Armanism (and some shrewd use of off-set opportunity), he ended up paying 25 per cent. The difference was enough to keep his wife in tax-deductible Armani for at least a fortnight.