>> Back in October, Giorgio Armani didn't seem very keen on pulling a Valentino and retiring — especially since he had no heir in line — but at 74, he's still looking into other contigency plans for his privately-owned label. In fact, odd as it may seem, he explored — unsuccessfully — a merger with Hermes, in hopes to unite the companies’ strengths in clothes and accessories. If it had gone through, he maintains, the deal “could have been something fantastic. Hermes has such class, such prestige.” The dealbreaker, according to Armani, was that there were too many Hermes family shareholders to reach an agreement.
The alternatives left include going public with a stock market listing — which Armani ruled out, and acquisition offers from other bigger companies, which Armani has so far turned down. As for an heir, he's still looking, but without much success: "If I’m no longer the one that takes a bow at the end of the fashion show, then we’ll find another solution, though it’s hard to imagine what that might be. I keep trying to find people who can do things for me. In the end I am always the one who does them.” In the meantime, he's giving more responsibility to his relatives — niece Roberta Armani handles celebrity relations for the company, and nephew Andrea Camarena sits on the board and runs marketing and licensing.