Today is the last day of Milan Fashion Week and Armani is, for the vast majority of people, the last show. Yeah, sure, there are still four more shows on the calendar, including Mila Schön, but no one who matters cares. If one wants to hang around and see a show just to say they’ve seen a fashion show in Milan, tickets for those last four shows should be pretty easy to secure. Even as I’m typing, fashion’s heavy hitters are already boarding planes for Paris.
If it seems that Milan went by quickly, and that there weren’t as many big name shows, you would be correct. The Milan schedule was a day shorter and the number of shows was reduced dramatically. Blame the economy. Italian fashion has, for the past several years, relied heavily upon the windfall brought by the Asian market. As that market has struggled some over the past 18 months or so, fashion labels, especially the traditional leather houses, have taken a big hit. Fashion week presentations are expensive and for those who don’t have an extensive international presence the cost is difficult to justify. Online sales have become much more important for smaller labels, and that medium offers them the opportunity to roll out new designs whenever they wish rather than waiting for the fashion schedule to roll around.
So, we end fashion week with the grand master of them all Giorgio Armani. The 81-year-old designer is still going strong and, unlike some of his peers, shows no sign of slowing down. Yes, he has dozens of design assistants working for him, but he still has a hands-on role in the operation and is still very much involved in what comes down the runway. This season, he doesn’t play too much with his well-established silhouettes, but does give us a new take on his famous suits with the use of a silk organza that is roughly 50 percent sheer. This matches the trend this season toward sheer bottom pieces, but the organza blend is still firm enough to hold a crease and stand up to a bit of wear. The look is still every bit as sharp as one expects from an Armani piece, but a lot lighter.
In fact, the entire collection is a lot lighter in texture than what we would normally see and arguably more casual. There are more trousers in this collection, again relying heavily on that silk organza blend. We also see cotton t-shirts and large floppy hats. There are multiple jumpers and shorts sets and even a few strapless tops that look really cute on the right person. After-5 wear is noticeably more formal and here he pulls out the delicate beadwork that is flashy and astonishing, but he generally puts those touches on jackets, leaving whatever is underneath light-weight and often sheer.
Everything in this collection is either red or blue or, most frequently, a combination of the two, which means this collection will play especially well in Western Europe and the United States, where those colors are somewhat patriotic. The pieces will play well at July 4th barbecues (watch for that sauce, though) and the non-sheer pieces may even show up on someone’s campaign trail. There are plenty of options that make casual still dressy. Armani still says luxury and this collection doesn’t back off that label one bit.
He ends the show with only three gowns and even those are variations on the same piece. He just wasn’t that into over-formal red carpet nonsense this season, and we can’t blame him. The market for such things just isn’t as strong as it was even a year ago.
So, Milan Fashion Week is, for all practical matters, over. We move on to Paris. If you still want to grab a cannoli and espresso, do it before you get to the airport; prices are triple what you can get in town. Caio.
Photo: Marcus Tondo