Eighteen years after his last attempt at a Paris show for Emporio Armani — it was shut down last-minute by authorities over safety concerns — Giorgio Armani pulled it off on Sunday night with a youthful and diverse spring collection tinged with exotica.
The clothes came thick and furious, like tourists at the Taj Mahal. The elephant on the invitation, and marching across the clothes, suggested an excursion in India. But his youthful cast — hair in rough braids, a sunhat dangling from a ribbon between the shoulder blades — could be trekking just about anywhere, from Machu Picchu to NoLIta.
Armani opened his show with a light seersucker pantsuit, as easy as pajamas, with a loose bow sagging off the blouse, setting the summery tone and the laid-back allure. Light and languid fabrics prevailed: satin for track pants, dusty silk in necktie prints for pajama suits and tissue-weight jersey and chiffon for long and loose sundresses.
The designer can set narrow themes for his collections — as the clump of ladies in vivid green in the front row attested — but here was an exhilarating panorama, spanning from little-nothing chiffon shorts and plunging silk tops to elaborate, floor-length skirts made of pleated scallops of fabric, printed in colorful motifs you might find on decorated elephants.
Colors ran the gamut from dusty greens and sober blues to vivid reds and purples.
Armani cast a vote of confidence in Paris with this Emporio show, staged in tandem with the overhaul of his Boulevard Saint-Germain Emporio flagship. It was a classy riposte to the nixed 1998 show, making the designer’s “unfulfilled dream come true,” as he put it.