Giorgio Armani says he was a "complete donkey" at school.
The fashion designer was not suited to study and struggled to concentrate in the classroom.
When he left school, his focus was on earning money to support his family and he had no desire to become a global style phenomenon.
The Italian designer believes it was simply a series of circumstances that led him down the path to success.
"At school, I was a complete donkey," Armani told the British edition of Elle magazine.
"There was never a sacred fire. I needed money because my family did not live in the best circumstances and I felt the need to help out."
Armani worked in a Milan department store for six years, an experience that put him on the path to becoming the fabric connoisseur he is today.
He said his tough mother drove him through these early years, keeping him in line as best she could.
These days, 78-year-old Armani owns nine homes and two yachts, but things were very different when he was growing up.
"My mother would have been top management today," Armani said.
"We had food, but it was horrendous food."
The silver-haired style supremo owns 100 per cent of his company Giorgio Armani, making his personal fortune worth an estimated $4.31 billion.
But it wasn't an easy rise to riches. Armani said that since starting his label in 1975, he had had to give up things associated with a normal life to pursue his dreams.
"I have sacrificed life," Armani said. "The life of a young man when I first started out and the life of a grown man at the age I am now."