Giorgio Armani goes after a theme the way the Broncos went after Tom Brady — relentlessly. So the arrival of his stiff-weave, lilac-hued invitation proved an unsubtle clue. It heralded a mono-pastel Armani Privé collection that would be feminine and light with a focus on subtle structure.
It was all of the above, its ample fabric flourishes by way of airy organza, gazar and a shot of crinoline. It also skewed young for Armani, a mood highlighted by pale purple palette and the models’ dark, wavy Katy Perry coiffeurs. The result was an interesting if uneven collection, one that played provocatively into the discourse of couture’s role today.
A big question: How to navigate the desire for youth and the need for newness? Talk to people involved with couture and they swear that desirable as they are, Instagrams, likes and tweets are secondary goals; the primary goal is to sell clothes. While one can certainly question the veracity of that priority, selling does matter. That means having something to say to modern women with the money, desire and lifestyle to purchase and wear couture. How much of that already limited market is into the concept of haute shorts? Among 59 looks, Armani showed 14 pairs, give or take, upward of 20 percent of his lineup. Snappy yes, but a snap more sensibly delivered off the rack.
That peculiarity aside, Armani presented some strong ideas. He elevated silhouettes of the street, specifically baseball jackets. A charming cropped version came in crystal-detailed silk jacquard; a longer one, in lame organza. Armani has long embraced tricked-out pants. Here, he did it with ruffles, stiffened via organza and gazar. While pants with major side cascades frothed with overkill, those flaunting a deep ankle ruffle looked wacky at first, but grew on you as the eye adjusted. Would that some had been shown not with equally stiffened tops but luxe sweaters.
While daywear remains a holy grail, much couture business skews toward evening. There, Armani delivered with his usual panache (never mind the multiple black, swirling “plexi” pasties he collaged into a top over a tiered skirt). Except for a linear look here or there, he went for the serene princess effect with elegantly decorated, full-skirted gowns — an embroidered one-shoulder in crinoline gauze with tulle overlay; a two-piece with crystal-embroidered top over lame organza shadow-striped skirt. With the Oscars around the corner, let the guessing begin.