Giorgio Armani ploughs his own furrow. While other designers look anxiously to TikTok or street style to see what the kids are wearing, Armani glides serenely by, indifferent to trends and influencers, perfecting his own, supremely elegant, idea of what a woman should look like.
So what to make of this show? Unexpectedly, Armani seems to have nailed many of Milan’s key signatures of the season. Wafty white, tick. Slinky black, tick. Wide waist-cinching belts? Colour-pop handbags? Underwear as outerwear? Lots of caramel and baby blue? Fringing? Sheer, gauzy, semi-transparent? Flat, walkable shoes? Bottom-skimming minis? A very eye-catching front row? It’s a yes to all of the above.
Of course, he did it his own way. So the celebrities sprinkled in the audience in Armani’s private theatre in a grand enclave in the historic centre of Milan (where he owns not only one house but the entire street) weren’t identikit K-Pop band members or noisy Hollywood imports with huge entourages and pneumatic buttock implants. Instead, he invited stars of the likes of Cate Blanchett, Juliette Binoche and Lily Allen, and the campaigning American model Lauren Wasser, to see his take on what we’ll be wearing come the spring.
On the catwalk, too, the looks of the season came filtered through an Armani lens, which generally equates to tasteful. So the black satin gown had a cut-out almost to the base of the spine but otherwise it was deadly simple, loose and flowing with an elegant beaded yoke.
The mini-skirts were as short as anything seen on the most raunchy Milan catwalks (looking at you, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana), as well as beaded and sheer. But they were worn over a loose pair of white silk-satin trousers. Meanwhile, the belts were wide but they had nothing of the corset about them, they were plain coloured leather and emphasised the narrow waist rather than constraining it.
So how to explain this unexpected alignment of the grandest old man of Italian fashion, and its flighty upstart trends? Armani’s been at the helm of his own company for almost 50 years and has built up an $11bn fortune on the basis of his own uncompromising aesthetic. That doesn’t happen if you bow to prevailing winds or allow anyone else to influence your thinking.
The last look on the runway was a long, beaded white gown with a transparent veil that looked almost ghostly as the model spun round in the spotlight. It was a fitting end to an ethereal show. And when Armani took his bow to a standing ovation, he seemed to know it.