Scoop of the Day: Giorgio: Thanks but no Thanks

The top girls have been all over the runways in Milan -- and on their terms, after an informal accord among the city's top designers to put ceilings on their fees fell apart. Everywhere, that is, except on Giorgio Armani's runway. He flatly refused. "When I think of the fees these girls are asking for a show that lasts a half-hour, and I look at one of my employees, who has to work a lifetime to earn that kind of money, I'm just not interested," Armani said. He added that the top girls were asking $10,000 a show, plus $3,000 in credit for clothes. But money wasn't the only issue. "I work hard at what I do, and I have the presumption to want people to talk about my clothes, not the girls wearing them," he said. Still, though he wouldn't have her on the runway, he didn't mind inviting Claudia Schiffer to his show with her boyfriend, David Copperfield, and to his private dinner afterwards.

Giorgio Armani: Mr. Softy

At a Wednesday morning press conference, Giorgio Armani said he believes the time is right to "seek out a new femininity." And, in the collection he showed Wednesday evening, Giorgio made good on his word. With Milan polarized between sexpot dresses and men's wear drag, Armani goes his own way. He has never lined up on the quick-change, myopic side of fashion, and neither do his customers.

The base of this collection, as always, is his jacket, but done with such refinement and softness that it no longer has anything to do with a man's wardrobe. The effect is totally feminine -- even with pants -- and unmistakably Armani.

Giorgio's new jacket is a gentle A-line starting from a soft shoulder. Sometimes it draped in front or ended in handkerchief points, but it always looked as effortless as a cardigan. His favorite way to show it off was over new skinny pants, long enough to bunch just slightly on the shoe.

Armani also loves the dress. But let others indulge in posterior peepshows; Giorgio opts for elegance. And unlike anyone else in Milan, he made a strong statement with long dresses -- mohair jumpers over turtlenecks, side-buttoned A-lines and shirred bodices with sweeping, filmy skirts. Short for him meant merely above-the-knee chemises or bell shapes with gathered hems, often worn over pants. And he put his own spin on the twinset, extending it into a little A-shaped dress and cardigan.

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