The show notes proclaimed the collection’s name: Charmani. Find an American of a certain age who didn’t think “Mr. Whipple” first and “charm,” second. That idiomatic quirk aside, the handle proved accurate. The collection Giorgio Armani showed on Friday, his first in his new, midweek time slot, radiated a chic charm that felt fresh and alluring. His purpose, Armani wrote in his program notes, was to deliver a “sense of elegance and sensuality, but also of magic and femininity…finding a new balance between discipline and charm.”
On the side of discipline, Armani worked primarily in watery prints in a limited palette of blues, purples and grays. The muted tones and indistinct lines mesmerized, creating a dream-like mood heightened by Armani’s languid but controlled shapes. Yet even the staunchest disciplinarian has his weak spot. With Armani, it’s typically a styling flourish; yes, often, a hat. By opening with floaty, unconstructed jackets atop soft shorts cinched at the knee, he telegraphed charm with a sporty attitude. Yet he distracted from that otherwise well-delivered message with big Scarlett O’Hara picture hats that appeared to have been blown off by a breeze to frame the face and shoulders. But as each girl walked past, it became clear that her hat wasn’t a hat, but a big flat disc attached to her shoulders that looked part hat brim, part angel wing.
Otherwise, Armani kept the tricks in check to lovely effect. His approach was to deliver his signature shapes in moody prints, combining textures and patterns while often incorporating exotic elements that hinted at nonspecific far-off lands — an overlay of long, artisanal fringe on organza shorts; a jacket crafted from ombréd ribbon strips. As an alternative to dressing in pieces, he also showed dresses with an overtly girly touch with big, puffed sleeves. He carried the vibe into evening with crystal and sequined embroideries that, while lavish, stayed utterly refined in the dominant dark blue. And, as a surprise, a number of men walked the show, dressed in lean tailored looks. Because charm is gender-fluid.