How many ways can bamboo influence a collection? Let’s just say Giorgio Armani saw the forest and the trees — well, technically, huge grasses — marking his first decade on the couture calendar with a calm and confident, if repetitive, show.
The Italian designer has occasionally flirted with theatrical designs since introducing Privé. Here, he went with his twin fortes: languid versions of masculine tailoring and sleekly glamorous evening dresses.
The show opened with a series of cardigan-simple, buttonless jackets in silks with stiffness, some flaring out at the back; others hip-length and hanging free, epitomizing that Armani ease. All came over flaring gazar culottes.
The Japanese influence was plain in roomier blousons with kimono sleeves, some holding origami folds. Obi-like belts and soba noodle colors contributed to the Zen mood — as did the bamboo-palooza of plant references, from the transparent stalks that pierced the runway to the myriad prints, embroideries and appliqués depicting the stems and leaves. Tightly pleated fabrics and textured jacquards also approximated you-know-what in simple tops and tunics.
While the collection did not register as particularly young, silhouettes were controlled and tubular. And the show picked up some steam as Armani moved into cocktail and eveningwear, treating simple shapes to elaborate surface decoration.
Diaphanous tank tops with sparkly embroideries glistened like dew on grass and were matched to long, densely pleated skirts with a metallic sheen. Cardigan jackets reappeared, now paved in rows of crystal like a monsoon rain, paired with sparkly pants or culottes in watery silks.
Overlapping bamboo prints occasionally overwhelmed some of his multilayered gowns, but they looked splendid rendered in lace carved into a racer-top mermaid shape, or embroidered tone-on-tone on a black gazar gown with a skimpy V-shaped bodice suspended from delicate straps.
In a recent interview, Armani said he entered couture to “push creative barriers” and change “the traditional way of thinking about haute couture as something strictly related to evening gowns, and giving the same attention to daywear.”
That’s certainly something to celebrate. And wouldn’t you know it: Anniversaries are multiplying like bamboo at Armani, who will mark 40 years in business this spring.