ARMANI
MILANO MANIA

Giorgio Armani: Who says celebrity-watching is passe? Certainly not anyone who was at Giorgio Armani’s spring show last night. Armani’s front row was a killer, even by Milan’s high-voltage standards: Tina Turner, Glenn Close, Ornella Muti and soccer star Ronaldo were all there, along with Vinessa Shaw, who came with her dad, Claire Forlani, Robin Tunney, Jean Reno — and, oh, yes, Ricky Martin.
And the crowd was loving it. One could call it Mania — even if that weren’t the name of Armani’s new fragrance. The photographers’ frenzy felt like something out of “Day of the Locusts,” and as security escorted each celeb to his seat, the room broke into enthusiastic applause. Some hard-nosed journalists even turned into girlish thrill seekers, one asking Martin for his autograph — for a daughter, of course — and another, taking his picture with a drugstore disposable camera. Throughout, Ricky was all smiles. He had flown in from Miami yesterday for the show and was scheduled to return to Los Angeles last night, in time for a full day of shooting. But he stayed at the after party — which also celebrated the Mania launch — for about two hours before heading to the airport, charming guests, as did the other VIPs. Such is Giorgio’s clout.
But as everybody knows, the power that counts most is on the runway. And for spring, Giorgio flexed his with the sureness of a maestro. This was a great collection, and the perfect kickoff to the house’s 25th anniversary celebration.
Armani spoke in his program notes of challenging conventions, but he’s way beyond mindless anarchy. His more savvy challenges resulted in clothes that felt approachable, the kind women can wear without having to decode any underlying high concept. By day, the message was sporty, with an overtly feminine feeling. He didn’t show a single suit, instead playing a multitude of jackets in a more casual way. A favorite silhouette: a lean, short jacket over a little top and slim pants, often in mixes of gentle textures and pastel tones. Then there were wispy little skirts and dresses, some cozy, colorful cardigans and a runway novelty, swimsuits people could actually swim in — feisty striped tankinis worn with long filmy skirts.
As for the eveningwear — spectacular. Giorgio said he was inspired by Kandinsky for his lineup of elaborately beaded and embroidered looks. But esoterica took a back seat to glamour in a dazzling display that ranged from boho layerings to backless, second-skin T-shirt dresses. These beauties would play anywhere, but we like Ricky’s idea. “This was so refreshing,” he said. “I say, let’s go, let’s take the whole thing and go to the Caribbean, to Puerto Rico, right now!”