Diamonds in the rough? Not at Armani Privé, where colorful, harlequin-inspired motifs were etched with precision across Giorgio Armani’s vast runway set and on his shiny and very sparkly spring couture collection.
It’s unusual, and more than a little risky, to build an entire fashion show around one pattern — prints being so personal — but Armani wasn’t joking around with this harlequin-palooza, splashing elongated squares on the vast majority of his 77 exits, and even adding a Pierrot neck ruff here and there.
In a couture season that’s been shy on color, lavish ornamentation and daring, Armani demonstrated an experimental zeal with his diamond motifs. It yielded a diverse collection that wasn’t always convincing, but sometimes reached the summit of couture wonderment with killer red-carpet looks.
The show opened with neat little jackets with the lozenge shapes in relief, and cycled through a variety of cocktail looks hinged on glossy black pants, black knickers or long, narrow black skirts. There were sequined T-shirts and variations on the cardigan, all bearing harlequin prints and the gentle, unfussy tailoring for which Armani is known.
Evening sheaths were interspersed throughout the show, most gleaming from top to toe with sequins or dense beaded embroideries. The workmanship impressed, with the diamond patterns sometimes etched in crystal dégradés, or veiled with chiffon overlays.
The designer occasionally took a break from harlequins to turn out a stunning, body-skimming length of peony pink sequins, or a sleek black number.
Armani didn’t specify in his show notes, which painting of a harlequin inspired this collection, but the mischievous, clown-like characters can be traced back to the Commedia dell’arte, an Italian theater movement in the 1500s, according to Wikipedia.
The site noted that harlequin patterns were big in the 1960s, sparked partly by a Picasso retrospective in New York, and mentioned more recent sightings on the runways of Cynthia Rowley, Geoffrey Beene and Oscar de la Renta.
Will “Everything Everywhere All at Once” star Michelle Yeoh — who picked up a Golden Globe wearing a strapless peplum Armani Privé gown, and who attended Tuesday night’s show — shine bright in a diamond-patterned Armani couture come Oscar night?
If so, that Wikipedia page on harlequins will need updating at once.