Georgio Armani
Adriano Alecchi/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty

In this weekly feature, InStyle’s Fashion News Director Eric Wilson shares his favorite fashion moment of the week, and explains how it could shape styles to come.

The Moment: Happy 80th birthday, Giorgio Armani! Let’s take a collective moment to toast the designer who changed fashion so many times over the last four decades, so much so that the recent men’s fashion shows in Milan seemed a collective tribute to his soft-shouldered style. He’s the most successful designer ever to come out of Italy, and the rare example of one who has maintained his independence despite no lack of interested suitors for his company, which turns 40 next year.

Armani Privé show in ParisVictor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty (3)

One of the most amazing things about Armani is that, while you can easily picture his signature contributions to style—relaxing the construction of men’s suits and creating a modern wardrobe for women, he also manages to continually surprise. Some of his most imaginative designs, like a celestial sequined gown for Lady Gaga at the Grammy Awards in 2010 that looked as if it were made of spun sugar, have been the subject of a traveling fashion exhibition called Eccentrico in recent years. A broader display of his works was the subject of a 2000 retrospective at the Guggenheim, where he once made a remark that summed up his approach to his job quite succinctly: “Fashion is at the heart of human expression and is a mirror that reflects society and its culture.”

Why It’s a Wow: Just because he’s technically past retirement age, Armani shows no signs of slowing down (in fact, he often says he won’t ever stop). His fall women’s collection, a study on the color gray, was one of his best received in many seasons, and his Armani Privé couture collection (above) shown this week in Paris was yet another big hit from a designer who, as a youth, technically had no formal training (he first dreamed of working in medicine and then started his career as a photographer for a department store).

Shortly after starting his label in 1975, making his mark with unconstructed jackets, Armani recognized the value of Hollywood and the red carpet far before other designers. The bonds he made there early on, especially after outfitting Richard Gere in 1980′s American Gigolo (below), have lasted for decades. Now he designs uniforms for Italian Olympians and sports teams, interiors, restaurants, chocolates, and hotels.

Richard Gere in American GigoloCourtesy Everett Collection

Learn More: Revisit some of our favorite Armani red carpet moments here, and take a tour of his Eccentrico exhibitions.

For real-time insider insights, make sure to follow Eric Wilson on Twitter (@EricWilsonSays).