By  on September 10, 2007

DALLAS — Giorgio Armani conquered Big D.

The Italian designer brought his charisma to Dallas during a whirlwind three-day visit that culminated Friday with a sold-out show of his fall 2007 ready-to-wear collection at Neiman Marcus' downtown flagship. The event helped raise almost $1 million for Dallas children's charities.

Armani, who first came to the city 25 years ago, said he has high regard for his clients here and the response to his designs was an indicator of the universality of the Armani look.

"I've seen the Dallas customer evolve and become more and more sophisticated over the last two decades," Armani told WWD. "And through these evolutions they continue to be among my best and most devoted customers."

A crowd of about 1,000 admirers rewarded him with a standing ovation when he took a bow after sending more than 50 women's and men's styles down a gleaming black-lacquer runway to the beat of tribal dance music.

The fashion show was staged for the annual Crystal Charity Ball Luncheon — guests included seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, a Texan — in a huge tent on the parking lot adjacent to the store. The show provided heat in more ways than one. Along with 95-degree temperatures and high humidity, there were sizzling beaded black and gray dresses inspired by the Twenties and Thirties, a favorite Armani theme. There were plunging necklines and Swarovski-crystal paisley embellishment on busts, cuffs and collars, as well as bubble-hem dresses that stopped just above the knee, slim skirts and full-cut trouser-style pants.

Amid the parties and dinners for Armani — including a cocktail reception hosted by developer Ross Perot Jr. in his penthouse at the W Hotel at the Victory Park retail, office, hotel and entertainment center, and a private dinner at Stephan Pyles restaurant in the Arts District hosted by Gigi Howard, public relations director of the Natura Bisse skin care company, and author Kim Schlegel Whitman — the 73-year-old designer spent most of his time working. In fact, he reiterated that he has no plans to retire, unlike his contemporary, Valentino Garavani.

True to his métier, Armani spent most of his time cloistered in a conference room atop Neiman's flagship that had been converted into a makeshift fashion atelier, complete with a short black-paper runway for Armani to instruct his models on how to exude just the right catwalk demeanor.

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