MILAN, Italy — "Dialoguing with ancient Japan." This how Giorgio Armani named the new Emporio Armani collection. He let the clothing do all the talking, giving no further explanation as to his intent. Although Japanese nods were evident, maybe a tad too evident, in the wide and cropped samurai pants worn over tailored slacks and the sumptuous silks used for both formalwear and sportswear, it wasn't a merely literal take on Japonisme. The bold layering of pieces and the fierceness of the looks, suited to metropolitan martial arts warriors, gave the collection a resolutely urban spin, accentuated by the headbands and the lug-soled shoes.
All in all, it worked. But the outing, which culminated with millennial superstar singer Shawn Mendes, felt a bit forced at times, which is slightly unusual for Mr. Armani, even though he considers his Emporio line a free zone for urban experimentation. Best in show were the deconstructed suits with cropped jackets, an authoritative reiteration of the true Armani codes. Inspired realism is Armani's forte, not looks with little life past a catwalk extravaganza.