It was an Armani cape that provided the wardrobe malfunction at last week’s Brit awards that left Madonna tumbling backwards on to the stage.
But if the Queen of Pop will not be wearing the cape for future performances, then at least expect more of that high glamour at other A-list events this year. For his autumn/winter 2015 show at Milan fashion week on Monday, 80-year-old designer Giorgio Armani – who has dressed everyone from Michelle Pfeiffer to Lady Gaga – produced a collection with a focus on after-dark dressing.
That was most evident in a series of dresses and jumpsuits towards the end of the show. They included loose slip dresses in lilac and slate, a sugar pink strapless dress with a ruffled bodice and a pretty anthracite organza gown worn with shiny black brogues. Everything sparkled with beading and metallic yarn.
Other parts of the collection still felt right for the evening but demanded less of a stage. They could translate to a cocktail party, say, or a night at the theatre.
Tailored trousers – stalwarts of Armani, who began with menswear and pioneered power dressing for women in the eighties – dominated as always. This season they came in silk, slightly tapered and cropped to just above the ankle. The trousers were worn with high patent heels and soft jackets, some in black velvet.
The tasteful and ageless wearable glamour of these designs was also implicit in other pieces. Models carried oversized clutch bags that could fit everything necessary for a night out while some had shawls slung over the shoulder.
Colours were mostly muted, ranging from slate grey to pea green, and there were heavily beaded three-quarter length jackets in pink, purple and pearly white.
Armani’s other influence, sportswear, was hinted at in sweaters cut to look like motocross jackets, wrap skirts worn over leggings and jackets patchworked from ponyskin. Overall, this was a collection that played up established brand tropes of evening elegance now familiar to Armani customers for 40 years.
Armani was named one of the 10 most successful Italian brands by a study last month. The research, conducted by investment bank Mediobanca, surveyed 135 fashion companies. Looking at brands over a five-year period, Armani’s growth came in third, at 18.6%, with sales of €2.2bn (£1.6bn) in 2013. The study suggests that this success is down to exporting, with 79% of sales in the same year coming from overseas.
As befits a behemoth of Italian fashion, Armani shows twice during Milan fashion week. Monday’s show followed Emporio Armani, the brand’s younger line, on Thursday. Mixing pin-sharp trouser suits and ruffles on tunics with a lot of red, the latter was different but still toed the party line, with tailoring and a very Armani take on easy elegance the dominant messages.
Armani’s show effectively closed proceedings on the final day of Milan fashion week. The Italian capital has seen a more alternative look emerge this year at Gucci, Prada, Bottega Veneta and Jil Sander, instead of the luxurious glamourpuss more usually associated with the city. Fashion editors will now be set for Paris, with shows in the French capital starting on Tuesday ahead of the big event on Friday, when John Galliano’s ready-to-wear debut for Maison Martin Margiela will be revealed.
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