With guests settled into their seats before the Armani Privé show, a small cheer rose up from the middle of the front row. Jessica Chastain, Giorgio Armani’s celeb guest of the afternoon, had just learned in real time that she’d been nominated for an Oscar for her role as Celia Foote in “The Help.”

The moment spoke volumes about a couture reality. With much of the paid business coming from the Middle East, Asia and Russia, couture’s greatest visibility in the West is on the red carpet. The pretty Chastain will be a major coup for whichever designer gets her nod. Surely, then, the Armani camp is as hopeful today as she: Chastain hopes to win Oscar; the house hopes to win her.

Who knows? Maybe the collection’s primary color — chartreuse — was decided upon in Chastain’s honor, playing to the truism that redheads look fabulous in green. If so, Armani kept mum on the matter backstage. Rather, he said the collection, called Metamorphosis, is for “the woman who is at first calm and easy and then is drawn out of her own skin.” If that female molting process was difficult to grasp, there was a snakeskin motif at play — not the real thing, but incarnations of mesh, prints, jacquards and honeycombs.

Though not without its awkward moments (stiff shiny pants, side-draped organza skirts), Armani worked his daywear in lean, flattering proportions, with numerous takes on a favorite jacket — cut lean with a peplum and demonstrative shoulders. But his haute heart belongs to evening. He sent out some beauties, including an asymmetrically banded mermaid with dégradé sequins and a pair of oddly dour but interesting gray silk printed ballgowns. Most alluring of all: a vibrant sequined gown with gracefully flared skirt. Chastain would look divine.

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