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October 28, 2009

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Armani hints that it's time to retire

ITALIAN fashion designer Giorgio Armani, still frail after a bout of hepatitis, hinted yesterday of succession plans for his vast clothes empire after his retirement and joked about his appearance.

"I'm already organizing staff who will continue my work," 75-year-old "King Giorgio", as he is known in Italy, said in Moscow, Russia, where he had jetted in to support its crisis-hit fashion industry.

"Of course I am not eternal, there comes a time when you must hand it over."

Known for his shrewd business sense, Armani has been more vague about his plans than other designers of his generation and has not publicly designated a successor on either the creative or the management side. Valentino Garavani retired last year.

Late last month, Armani made several management changes, signaling an easing of his workload and the designer is reshuffling his agenda to take better care of himself.

Widely regarded as the doyen of Italian fashion, he has kept investors guessing on the future of his company, at times hinting at a bourse listing and at other times signaling he could sell the group.

Dressed in a sleek black suit, Armani joked with reporters about his appearance: "You see how I am, I don't look bad yet, do I?" he remarked to a roaring round of applause.

Deputy General Manager John Hooks, who in January will become deputy chairman and join the board, said most of the damage from the recession for both Armani and the fashion industry has bottomed out.


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