While fashion has been blooming all over the spring/summer haute couture catwalks – camellias at Chanel, pansies and more meadow flowers at Dior, feathered blossom at Giambattista Valli – Giorgio Armani followed a different route for his Armani Prive collection. The designer stated that this was “a traveller’s tale, the fabrics tell the story of an encounter between East and West”. It is, of course, not the first time fashion has chosen this narrative but Armani did so in his own highly distinctive manner.
Fabrics with their roots in Indian textiles were reconfigured into complex geometries all spliced and scaled to perfectly follow the lines of everything from skirts that puffed from waist to mid-calf to linear trouser suits. Trousers have been everywhere this season, inspired perhaps by Raf Simons debut for Christian Dior, shown six months ago now. In Armani’s hands they came in heavy satin in black, ivory, ruby and fern green and were high-waisted and fitted to the knee then flared subtly to just above the ankle.
An idiosyncratic flourish came in the form of a “sceptre” wrapped in fabric that appeared at the necklines of dresses or between shoulder-blades from behind: it looked like an ancient scroll finishing otherwise more classic looks.
If the couture element here was mainly in the cut, fit and proportion of garments, for evening the jeweled embroideries beloved of many a red carpet stalwart made a glittering appearance, sparkling across dresses, waistcoats – worn with those trousers again – and on talon-heeled pumps and small but perfectly formed fringed bags.
With the Oscars just a month away, it’s safe to assume that Uma Thurman and Hilary Swank, both in pride of place front row, were in search of the type of understated but ultra-luxe big entrance dress that Armani has clothed their ilk in since the 1980s. If their well-mannered applause was anything to go by, they may have found it.