Giorgio Armani says successor need not be Italian

MILAN, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Octogenarian fashion designer Giorgio Armani said on Monday the image of his brand might benefit if he picked a successor - who did not necessarily have to be Italian - for when he retired.

Now 83 and still running the company he founded in the 1970s, Armani has never made explicit who he would want to take over the reins at Italy’s second-biggest fashion house once he steps down.

In a first move aimed at addressing succession issues, Armani last year created a foundation in his name to safeguard the group’s future.

In an interview with Italian TV channel RaiNews24 on Monday, Armani said there were people inside the group who could carry on his work.

“I have several little heirs,” he said mentioning his two nieces and his nephew and his long-time assistant Pantaleo Dell’Orco. “(These are) people who could do good things following up on my path.”

Armani’s nieces Roberta and Silvana both work at the group while their cousin, Andrea Camerana, recently left but is still a board member. Dell’Orco heads the men’s lines and sits on the foundation’s board.

“However, clearly in the world we live in, a heir is important because they have to be somehow visible, must attend evening social occasions and be photographed,” Armani added.

There were well-established fashion designers who fit the bill though he would not want to name any. But looking for someone “younger, fresher” would be better, he said.

Asked if the person had to be Italian, he said: “It’s not a given. Let’s remember that in the 1970s-1980s, fashion designers were French and they were the ones we followed.”

He spoke in London where he showcased the Spring/Summer women’s collection of his younger Emporio Armani brand, returning to the British capital’s fashion week after an 11-year absence with models dressed in billowing, pastel-coloured fabrics. (Reporting by Claudia Cristoferi, writing by Valentina Za, editing by John Stonestreet)