Fashion leaves little time for revelry. So fresh off his triumphant triptych at the Oscars, for which Giorgio Armani now famously dressed three best-actress nominees — Jessica Chastain, Naomi Watts and Quvenzhané Wallis — it was back to business as usual, which on Monday meant the showing of his fall collection.
Armani’s attentions clearly were not diverted by his Oscars responsibilities; this was a quite complicated, labor-intensive collection. Too much so at times, especially since its title, “Garçonne,” presaged a more relaxed, off-handed vibe. Instead, Armani seemed too focused on the self-imposed grails of “avant-garde” and “calculated eccentricity” (descriptives cited in his program notes), which led to some heavy-handedness of design and styling.
Getting past those, there were some terrific clothes. Armani opened with elegant, waist-conscious jackets in interesting graphic patterns over languid velvet pants. He then moved in a sportier direction with short, loose jackets, these over low-slung trousers. Both looked great. They were just the beginning, as along the way Armani sent out every shape of jacket imaginable and intensely textured sweaters as well as jumpsuits, their tops cut like extra-wide lapels; pants that unzipped down the sides for extra volume, and a few lovely short dresses. He also did his part for Milan’s great coat season with a double-faced black-and-blue topper and fluffier versions.
For evening, he was both at his best and most confounding. His series of black looks started elegantly but got increasingly tricked out with excesses such as a double-winged bodice on a dress and a stiff, suspended peplum over sparkly pants. Yet every now and then he exhaled and went for the ease of a lovely embroidered top and velvet skirt, including one with a black-and-white T-shirt aquiver with rows of beaded fringe. Such looks radiated an understated chic that sits at the core of the Armani allure.