Couture Fashion Week Report: Armani Privé goes sci-fi

25 January 2011

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You can never be sure you know everything about a person, even when you’ve known them for a very long time. I’ve been going to Armani shows practically since he had sideburns and I never suspected he was a sci-fi fan. But the seed of this summer’s haute couture collection seems to have sprung from the back seat of the Milan movie theatre that was showing Tron this year.

The catwalk was a riot of Swarowski crystal, metallic fabric and galactic glitter. And uncharacteristically for Armani (who generally works in a palette of the mushroom and cream variety) there was also a candy shop of shimmering colours.

We can always rely on Mr A for scene stealing sparkle. His glittering catwalk is generally appreciated by an equally glittery front row. Award season is upon us and the red carpet is calling stars of stage and screen. This season’s front row had Jodie Foster, in Paris shooting with Roman Polanski and co starring with Kate Winslet. There was Sophia Loren, a woman whose medicine cabinet I would pay to see, she looks so insanely good for 70-something.  There was Olivia Wilde, star of TV medical drama House and the Spanish film director Pedro Almodavar.

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The collection stopped short of light sabre accessories but for openers there were jackets that came out as sharp as star ship troopers with their angular shoulders and sweet wrapper cellophane gleam: emerald, scarlet and gold.  Mr Armani has had bouts of poor health over the past year. If ever there was a sign he had bounced back it had to be in the futuristic brights. Tunics and jackets were all styled with skinny metallic trousers in the same electric colours and topped with Philip Treacy’s mirror finished flying saucer hats.

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The evening wear was laser sharp. Slim column dresses in navy had a slash of asymmetric white collar over the shoulder or sliced cutouts revealing glittering scarlet or sapphire blue underneath. Molten lame drop waisted dresses had huge swagged skirts. Column dresses were pierced with multi coloured crystals and worn with jewelled face masks.

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The slickest trick here was that dresses that must have weighed as much as the women who are likely to wear them, actually looked light and airy. The question this year for red carper contenders is not, are you star enough to carry off an Armani gown, but are you strong enough?

- Paula Reed in Paris

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