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Armani to branch out with line of home furnishings in 1999

Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani plans to launch a home furnishings line in 1999.

"It won't be just sheets and dishware but will include furniture, too," he told a news conference. "I hope it will be ready by the end of next year. It's a very big project and a very difficult market."He also spoke briefly about his plans to list his company on the Milan or New York stock exchanges.

"It's on the horizon because times have changed and a listing is a good solution for a house like mine," he said. "We're speaking to three or four investment banks about it, but nothing has been decided yet."

In the meantime, 63-year-old Armani is restructuring his business in order to be ready for a public share offering should he take that course. His company has annual sales and licensing revenues in excess of $1 billion, making it one of Italy's biggest fashion houses.

As for his catwalk show, he said it would return to classic Armani style, designed for women who like a masculine approach to fashion.

The show will include fewer celebrity guests and models than in previous years, the designer said.