“The New Chic” was how Giorgio Armani defined his fall collection, according to program notes. And since Armani prides himself on maintaining a constant minimum of high chic, grounded in his long-established house codes of strong, sophisticated tailoring and elegant evening attire — dually represented here — the question was what did he consider new? No, not the fringy, in-your-face hats (distracting headgear has also recurred over the years) but color: saturated Crayola tones, such as orange, cherry red, pink and the deep emerald green that opened the show on two slick, shiny jackets — one that cut away in the front, the other trim and cropped. Both were made from luxe exotic skins and worn over velvet shorts, items that combined two of the collection’s other newsy motifs.
Indeed, Armani worked rich velvets — on cloaklike jackets and little capes that fell off the shoulder just so — into a statement in dark opulence. Meanwhile, shorts — cut wide and just above the knee — were paired with smart tailored jackets for a new take on the suit for day; and two bright red elaborately embroidered styles gave evening wear a dressed-down attitude.
Armani envisioned the collection’s bold pops of color and unexpected cuts as an alternative to the “reliable black skirt and white shirt.” Yet the most classic pieces, most done in tried-and-true black and white, were the lineup’s best. A-line black skirts and dresses, some done in velvet with winding horizontal seams, had a youthful sophistication. A strapless white cocktail dress that fell in tiered architectural folds that wrapped around one arm for an asymmetrical cape effect was crisp and clean. Likewise, a number of trim jackets with slim arms and strong shoulders. Maybe they weren’t new, but they were classic Armani chic.