Anyone who saw Cate Blanchett looking glorious at the Golden Globes knows that Giorgio Armani’s best eveningwear is masterful — refined, interesting and, most importantly, celebratory of a woman’s beauty. With the Armani Privé collection the designer showed on Tuesday night, that mastery was in full force.
Armani showed his spring haute couture as part of the Paris installment of his One Night Only celebrations, and it made a compelling anchor. Called Nomade, it encompassed strains of the exotica he loves. “This is a woman who moves around the world and picks ideas from the beautiful things she sees, what moves her emotionally: the color of a skirt, jewelry that can be ethnic or not,” Armani said during a preview. He described the collection as a “mélange of things — not typically Indian or African or European. She moves with an Armani spirit in her head.”
Of course, that Armani spirit has men’s wear roots, which have impacted the designer’s women’s aesthetic from the start. Here, he flaunted the connection by day, transforming necktie foulards and stripes into statement daywear, typically small jackets over voluminous skirts and pants. The prevailing sober-toned shine and numerous arabesque embellishments suggested nonspecific Eastern influences. Though attractive, some of these looks projected an hauteur that felt out of step in the midst of this otherwise let’s-get-real season.
Not so with the magnificent eveningwear. Armani delivered options of look and mood — the elegance of a tailored jacket over pants; the danger of a glittering mesh shawl over transparent blouse and plissé skirt. But it was his gowns that captivated most. Obviously, Armani was thinking Oscars, and why not? He turned that too-often mundane classic, the strapless ball gown, memorable many times over, layering crystal-embroidered crinolines and laces over rich silks — jacquard, gazar, organza — often in mesmerizing shades of deep blue. Always he varied the line and details to make each dress unique — just as couture should be.