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Poetic and Fierce

Giorgio Armani gave languid chic a poetic twist, while Christopher Bailey spun the house’s military heritage at Burberry Prorsum. <BR><BR><STRONG>Giorgio Armani:</STRONG> It's not a pant, it's an attitude. That could be the motto for Giorgio...

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Giorgio Armani gave languid chic a poetic twist, while Christopher Bailey spun the house’s military heritage at Burberry Prorsum.

Giorgio Armani: It’s not a pant, it’s an attitude. That could be the motto for Giorgio Armani this spring, where the mood is that of languid chic with a touch of the poet. It made for a lovely show, one in which the parade of tricky pants du jour made sense, though clearly the commercial collection offers more pedestrian options for a gal’s lower half.

Armani said he was inspired by the Italian countryside, but if the clothes hardly channeled Anna Magnani, who cares? The signatures bore a fresh modernity that made the casual air urbane and romantic, the latter accentuated by endless extras, including ethereal shawls and sparkling snoods.

The pants, all variations on truncated genie garb, were key, with Armani’s favorite version (and ours) cropped and tied at the knees the way an actress in a B-romance might knot up her skirt for a wade through a pond. Armani used them as a foil for the rest of the collection. He seemed to think the billowing bottoms were a go-with-anything item, and in a God-forgive-this-writer way, they were. Thus, they nicely showed off a cardigan jacket banded in satin, a tailored, side-tied jacket in blue silk and various layerings involving tunics, tanks and soft shirts. These came in pale neutrals and patterns both discreet and demonstrative, and if some overgrown palm prints and pinstripes didn’t work, those were small transgressions.

For evening, Armani fancied pants little, preferring sultry gowns artily embellished with embroideries, appliqués and fringes to evoke a world of beautiful bohemia.

Burberry Prorsum: In fashion, as in celebrity tabloids, the “It” Brit girl has lately suffered from a case of overexposure. Christopher Bailey, for one, has had enough of her. This marks the second season he’s distanced himself from the cool-chick ethos of the charming retro variety that put him on the map. Moving on was a must, but Bailey seems uncertain where to go. He toughened up last season with a medieval knight motif and called this a “luxury warrior” collection, yet it felt more watered-down power babe. Celtic shield-inspired hardware studs that appeared on belts, sheaths and trenches supplied the aggressive element, and skintight ruched skirts and dresses worked the sexy angle. Consider the body-hugging teal-and-purple series, complete with demonstrative lace-up details, and Burberry’s got a tamer Gucci girl — someone Bailey remembers well from his days working under Tom Ford — on its hands.

While Bailey might need a little time to steady his course at Burberry, its indelible Anglo roots will always be a guide. There, he paid ample homage and flexed his creative muscle. Military decorations were inventively reimagined as a silken fringe detail and one dress with an epaulet-fringed shimmy skirt. The signature plaid looked fresh in a large-scale version on skirts and belted dresses. As for the house’s true bread and butter, the trench, one with armor-like shoulders, made Bailey’s urban warrior look fashionably fierce.

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