There has been a growing conversation about individuality in fashion this season, with Tory Burch, for one, shifting to a mind-set of wanting to give women tools for self-expression and creating their own style, rather than suggesting an overarching top-down runway look.
The topic is not particularly new; it goes back to the street-style photography by Bill Cunningham and others before him, up to the dawn of the age of social media influencers being prized for their personal style, even if it is increasingly created with the same brand items seeded to their peers.
Giorgio Armani was once a designer in the mold of a uniform purveyor, and whose style was instantly recognizable.
But not so much recently — and certainly not in his coed fall Emporio Armani collection.
Zeroing in on “the rhythm of color” as a theme, he contrasted brights for women’s with neutrals for men’s.
That added up to a dizzying array of patterns, from Memphis-style squiggles on a coat and matching shorts set to a Palm Beach-style pink-and-green floral jacquard on a snappy blazer worn with bubblegum pink pants; tile-like sequin embroideries on a round neck evening jacket worn with black dominatrix boots, to a color wave of faux fur on a bomber jacket.
The men’s side was a study in grays, with a blurred check patterned shirt jacket and shorts layered over leather legging boots à la Rick Owens; a beautiful pale gray coat overcoat with crossover collar detail over a tonal vest and cargo pants look; zigzag puffers, and diamond-patterned second skin bodysuits hinting at Armani’s recent role in outfitting the Italian team in the winter Olympics.
Evening looks ranged from bright colored bubble dresses with sporty black tank bodice details to black velvet le smoking looks with tie-neck blouses, to a daring black patent deep halter dress with pink fuzzy knit skirt that left little to the imagination, worn with buckled punk boots.
It had its moments, but together felt a bit dissonant. Still, Armani has been a leading light through the pandemic, the first designer to call off his in-person runway show in February 2020, and a voice of reason throughout in reading the zeitgeist and prioritizing safety.
For this first, full-capacity in-person runway in Milan, he welcomed 400 members of his workforce to attend the show.
Gracious, as always.