MILAN, Italy — If Giorgio Armani’s collection was indeed his response to the ‘Gucci-fication’ of Italian fashion, he certainly couldn’t have picked a better medium for his message than black velvet. So sombre, so subdued and yet rich enough to satisfy his own late-period appetites.
There was a time when Armani was almost ascetic in comparison with his Milanese peers, and very vocal he was in his distaste for their perceived excess. Fashion spins in cycles, so perhaps he feels he’s back at that point now.
Except at its core, this collection was extremely dressy. It endorsed black velvet for everything from trackpants to eveningwear, in the striking floral jacquards — some of them as dense as oil paintings, others as airy as watercolours — or in details like the black lacquered bowtie neckpieces (glad to see that Armani’s affection for the eccentric flourish remains undimmed, even if these weren’t among his finest).
In the end, however, the show was literally over-shadowed by all the black. Isolate any one of the several dozen velvety evening looks that closed the show and they would have been more impressive than they were en masse.
But Armani could surely feel good that the real takeaway from the collection was the series of superb jackets in ‘greige’ — not black velvet — the shade that has seesawed between blessing and curse for the designer. The fit — the way they gently defined the waist, hugged the shoulder or the base of the spine — was a thing of true beauty.