The opening cool grays of Giorgio Armani’s spring collection stood in stark contrast to the 51 looks and bountiful accessories featured in the designer’s one-night mini-retrospective installed in a gallery space at his headquarters. The exhibit, “Eccentrico,” was well-named, showcasing creations from 1985 on from the fantastical end of Armani’s range. With hyper-constructed pieces such as his silver galactic special for Lady Gaga to the utterly romantic — an ethereal blue wonder from 2001 — to musings on Orientalism (Privé, 2009), they showed a designer who knows how to embrace fantasy when the time is right.

As Armani sees it, that time is seldom by the light of day. Despite its name, “Kaleidoscope,” he kept his collection ultrasubdued through the daytime hours. His opening cloudlike hues moved into a range of lovely blues. First out: sportswear pieces worn in layers, often a short jacket over a tunic and pants for a tri-level effect. Airiness was the point, and often, the effect, as Armani worked mostly in lightweight silks. But among these was organza, which sometimes crossed over from crisp to clunky. Similarly, a number of dresses overtly on their own turned awkward over the pants that Armani just couldn’t resist throwing on endlessly, even when they made no sense.

Ultimately, however, such tricks of styling (silly hat alert!) could not trump Armani’s message of elegant ease, which he delivered via jackets with softly pleated, flyaway backs; a major focus on shorts and some dresses in gentle prints. It was all quite soothing, even into evening when celestial 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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