The opening cool grays of Giorgio Armani’s spring collection stood instark contrast to the 51 looks and bountiful accessories featured inthe designer’s one-night mini-retrospective installed in a gallery spaceat his headquarters. The exhibit, “Eccentrico,” was well-named,showcasing creations from 1985 on from the fantastical end of Armani’srange. With hyper-constructed pieces such as his silver galactic specialfor Lady Gaga to the utterly romantic — an ethereal blue wonder from2001 — to musings on Orientalism (Privé, 2009), they showed a designerwho knows how to embrace fantasy when the time is right.

AsArmani sees it, that time is seldom by the light of day. Despite itsname, “Kaleidoscope,” he kept his collection ultrasubdued through thedaytime hours. His opening cloudlike hues moved into a range of lovelyblues. First out: sportswear pieces worn in layers, often a short jacketover a tunic and pants for a tri-level effect. Airiness was the point,and often, the effect, as Armani worked mostly in lightweight silks. Butamong these was organza, which sometimes crossed over from crisp toclunky. Similarly, a number of dresses overtly on their own turnedawkward over the pants that Armani just couldn’t resist throwing onendlessly, even when they made no sense.

Ultimately, however,such tricks of styling (silly hat alert!) could not trump Armani’smessage of elegant ease, which he delivered via jackets with softlypleated, flyaway backs; a major focus on shorts and some dresses ingentle prints. It was all quite soothing, even into evening whencelestial prints and dazzling force fields of crystals — grids,starbursts and spheres — exploded against grounds of black and navy.They recalled the night sky at its most magical.

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