PARIS, France — Lilac. It’s a lovely colour on a bush. And there’s something about chinchilla that takes the tone well. It may also be the colour of Old Hollywood. Even though we know the town in black and white, it’s not so hard to imagine it redolent with the scent, the shade. For his couture show tonight, Giorgio Armani courted those impressions by putting each and every one of his models in a black wig that was supposed to evoke Merle Oberon, Cathy to Laurence Oliver’s Heathcliff in 1939’s very black and white Wuthering Heights. Appreciate that oddity and you may be able to come to terms with the collection. Armani can do such outlandish things because he is Giorgio Armani, a law unto himself. Maybe he was a boy sitting in a movie theatre in Piacenza, watching Olivier and Oberon while bombs fell around him. Maybe they looked like saviours.
But there was no “maybe,” about the clothes he showed today. They were all too definite in their peculiarity. Couture shorts: now there’s a concept. And gazar pants ruffled at the hem, a little cuchi-cuchi in this context. The first look was an abbreviated coatdress shown with sci-fi go-go boots. After that, it was hard to shake the sci-fi. The lilac palette was icy. The reiterations of shorts and jackets looked like uniforms for space cadets. The visuals suggested the mineral striations of other planets.
And it was insistent. The abbreviation, the a-line, the stardust sparkle carried through to the end, with shimmering strapless bustier dresses. The absolute confidence with which Armani delivered such a message was awe-inspiring. There wasn’t a lot in this collection to love, but he certainly wins respect for the wilful bullheadedness with which he delivered it.