On Friday, Armani spoke to reporters while presenting his Emporio Armani line at Milan Fashion Week.
“There is so much talk about women being raped, but women today are regularly ‘raped’ by designers,” the 85-year-old said.
“I am thinking of certain ads where women are shown in a provocative way, half naked, and many women feel pressured into looking like that. That for me is rape. It’s unbefitting.”
The Associated Press reported Armani also stated: “We say that women are being raped in a corner. Women continue to be raped by designers.”
When asked to clarify his remarks, the Italian designer said: “Women can be raped in various ways. Throwing her under a stairwell or suggesting she dresses in a certain way: for me, that is raping a woman.”
Armani’s comments sparked criticism on social media, with one person describing his comparison between fashion advertisements and rape as “nonsensical and dangerous”.
“The exploitation of women in fashion imagery is not a new phenomenon, far from it. And I do think Armani has tried always to be respectful of women in his work,” tweeted Booth Moore, executive editor at WWD.
“But the word ‘rape’ is very charged, in any language.”
“This is literally vile. Pretty insulting to just throw it around,” another person commented.
In a statement to The Independent, Armani said he “can understand how today for the press” his comments may seem like “a strong statement”.
“If I could turn back and have used another word to express that all of us designers have the duty to respect the women we design clothes for I would,” the designer added.
“But I used this term, provocatively, to move things, shifting the attention to a matter that I believe is very important, and that is close to my heart.”
Armani added he believed he had “invented a new type of femininity” that balances “between rigour and sensuality”.
He explained he believes women must have the choice to “choose how to dress according to their mentality and character”, while also “taking into account their physique and their age, avoiding ridicule”.
“I believe that certain stylistic proposals, certain impositions, are not very respectful towards women,” he stated.
“I admit that sometimes I have been guilty of this as a designer, but it is a mistake that I do not intend to repeat.”
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