Giorgio Armani can take a breather any time he wants. He’s been doing this design thing long enough no one would complain if he took a season off and gave us a “best of” tour. In fact, there are probably a fair number of his most loyal customers who would enjoy that. One would think that after creating a huge 200-piece Emporio collection full of new sporty athleisure looks the old man might take a pass on this season’s main label. That’s not the case, though. Instead, he shows up first thing in the morning with 70 fresh looks that remind us that not everyone on the planet lives in biking shorts (though, even here, he does manage to squeeze a pair of those in).
“The Shape of Color” is, as much as anything, an indirect reference to the 2017 movie, The Shape of Water. While nothing in the designer’s notes comes right out and references the award-winning film, all one has to do is look at the fabrics, the designs, and the patterns to notice the reference. From beginning to end, there is an iridescence and fluidity that carries an underwater aesthetic without feeling wet or contrived. Armani’s selection of fabrics is often “almost” sheer, just opaque enough to not be see-through under the brightest lights of the runway but still inferring the shape of the body underneath. The ensembles look as though their floating, perhaps even swimming down the runway, and they do so without any special effort on the part of the model.
While Armani opens the show with silver pieces that form the base of the collection, it’s the coral pink that really carries much of the stylistic weight. Here, smack in the middle of the set, we find the most fantastic embroideries and delicate beadwork. 3D flowers are attached to the bodice of dresses so as to enhance their sense of fluidity. A bubble top and a couple of sweaters look as though they are actually covered in bubbles. Jackets made of strips sewn together horizontally feel like undulating waves. As light refracts different colors with the movement of the water, so too do the patterns on the classically-styled suits.
When the gowns hit the runway, Armani really goes all out with sequins and beads that add to the reflective shimmer of the fabric underneath. Every piece of these gowns seems to move in concert, as though carried by a current in the same direction, different pieces catching a new color as they move beneath the lights.
Here are a few samples from the collection.
There was a sense of calm in watching these pieces on the runway, much like what one feels when sitting on a beach watching the surf ebb and flow. Yet, this is not close to being casual wear. Even the ensembles that are casually tailored with loose-fitting pants and roomy jackets still have a special occasion feel to them. A handful of pieces are subdued enough that one might wear them to an office, perhaps, or the board meeting for one’s favorite charity, but the shimmer found on the majority mandate that they be noticed and they are so well crafted, so dramatically eye-catching that everything else in the room is likely to suffer depression from the comparison.
Herein lies the dichotomy of this collection, while the pieces look and feel relaxing, their luminescence compared to anything else others might wear is going to effectively shine a spotlight on the person wearing them. There’s no hiding in the crowd, no playing the shrinking wallflower while wearing one of these pieces. Everything in this collection attracts light and light inevitably attracts attention. Ask yourself if you’re ready for the attention. If so, this is the collection you want in your closet.