Forget any notion that you may have had about the couture as a formal and trussed up thing for Mr Armani knocked the stuffing out of it with his new collection. Soft shapes in flesh tones and fluid fabrics were at the heart of the Prive look for Winter 2010.
Just up the front row from Clare Danes sat Daphne Guinness in a corset so tight that her waist must have been whittled to a handspan: 20 inches at the most. But her back never touched her chair (the only way to sit in such a thing is bolt upright) and was it a look of concentration or asphyxiation? Couldn't be entirely sure.
Maybe she had started to envy the ease of coats shrugged over the shoulders of drapey shift dresses on the runway, the tightly fitted crocodile biker jacket over wide pants, or the sexy crepe all in one catsuit which Mr A proposed as an evening option and with which he seemed to be signalling some acknowledgement of a dramatic lifestyle change for the modern couture customer.
Sure she still lives pretty grandly and her wardrobe budget is what you and I would be lucky to be able to spend on a house, but she is also likely to work (and therefore need to go to meetings and meet deadlines) travel (and therefore need to pack) entertain (and often need to look effortlessly glamorous) and get dressed without a posse of staff to help her do it.
So Mr Armani's collection majored in day wear that had as many trousers as dresses, as many jackets as coats and accessories whose function is more than receptacle for lipstick and mobile phone, such as the genius over the body bags with utilitarian twill straps that looked very 'dress and run'. Clearly Mr Armani's idea of a modern couture customer is someone who is not just a decorative object.
Of course no Armani show is complete without a red carpet section and the evening gowns were a glamorous bead-fest of sinuous mermaid dresses sprinkled with crystals. A couple of bustier dresses were a lesson in the unlikely sounding but, in Armani world, perfectly plausible concept of low key key grandeur.
by Paula Reed