PARIS, France — Giorgio Armani can go both ways. Sometimes, he surrenders to experiment, other times, he plays to his strength, logical elegance. Or, equally, elegant logic. The immediate prelude to the Privé collection he showed tonight was a surprisingly strong menswear collection for Spring 2017 that distilled his signature jackets and pants to a sun-drunk, worn-out nub. Scarcely appropriate for haute couture.
Still, the same spirit of distillation prevailed. Armani made clothes of striking purity, with paradoxical accents of carnality. A column of black silk with a coil of crystal across one shoulder was starkly erotic. Another column, this one in black velvet, had the single but spectacular detail of a plunging neckline lined, again, in crystal. A matte black shoulder-draped satin jacket was paired with a black velvet skirt slit high on the thigh.
Given Armani’s vintage, comparisons are tempting with other artists who drove far into their dotage with a passionate need to make. Picasso never stopped. Lagerfeld and Armani are his fashion equivalents.
But where Picasso raged, Armani kept his cool with this collection, from the measured restraint of the daywear with its icy blues and pinks, its abstracted houndstooth, its subtle sheen of specialness, to the lush, sepulchral evening velvets.
The doodads — bows, capelets — were easily edited in the mind’s eye, so that nothing could distract from the sensual severity. And when Armani ladled on the decoration for the last look — crystalled, sequined, pearled — he scooped out the back of the dress, so our last impression was a stark juxtaposition of skin and shine. That would be the same lingering impression the wearer of such a dress would leave on a room as she exited. Elegant, erotic, unforgettable.