When Giorgio Armani first raised the big Emporio Armani sign over a hangar at Linate, people were confused, thinking he’d bought the airport. Who could blame them? In 1996, Giorgio Armani was one of the biggest and most thrusting brand names in fashion and the man himself was among the richest people in Italy. Armani might as well have bought the airport: The Emporio sign was a genius stroke of branding in the pre-social media age with hundreds of millions of passenger eyeballs locking on it — and still doing so — as they taxi into, and out of, Linate.
The logo isn’t going anywhere — not from Linate, not from Armani’s labels. At a time when designers are tweaking the look of their logos — Burberry, Berluti and Celine — Armani said he’s keeping Emporio’s as is. “It’s mine and I’m holding it close,” the 84-year-old designer said during a collection walk-through. This was his first show at Linate, and he said he was keen to make a connection between past and present.
That was one reason why Nineties heartthrob Robbie Williams closed the show in a black pleated skirt and matching sequin jacket — and performed later for a crowd that numbered 2,300, including members of the public who won tickets to the event.
“Hello, I’m Robbie Williams, you might remember me from the Nineties. Tonight you are mine,” he told a cheering audience before waving his black walking stick around and breaking into song — and paying tribute to George Michael with a high-energy cover of “Freedom.”
“There’s a new Emporio today, and a new commercial outlook and I thought ‘Why not look back to that time when we put up the sign?’ For me, the past is always present,” Armani said. He sent out his spring collection in that spirit, with a one-off coed show that mostly played to his strengths, and put the focus on slouchy silhouettes and the textured and floaty fabrics and that made him famous.
There were crinkles galore in the featherweight linen skirts and papery cotton fabrics that Armani used for trenchcoats, high-waisted trousers, and roomy tailored jackets in an array of beige and soft neutrals.
Color came in the form of head-to-toe Gatorade green for a suit, a tricky color at the best of times, bright pink for an opaque ankle-length anorak and dark blue on the spangles sprouting from the skirt of cocktail dresses. A lineup of sequin tap pants — on men and women alike — added some Las Vegas-style glitz.
“I was thinking about what Millennials actually like to wear, things that look to the past and recall Seventies and Eighties shapes. I also tried to understand what could be taken from the past — and made modern. So you’ll see jackets and coats that are part nylon, part leather with a vinyl gilet for a sporty touch. But overall, it’s elegant — and less about street.”
As always, the show was big and long — with more than 200 looks making their way down the catwalk in the show space-cum-concert venue — under the sign that’s spoken loud and clear for 22 years.