Milan Fashion Week ended today with a fitting finale - the Giorgio Armani Spring/Summer 2016 ready-to-wear show and the launch of a new book that celebrates 40 years of his eponymous fashion house.
"Inside of me there are memories and sensations that I needed to let out," Armani told the Associated Press about the book which will be published this week in both English and Italian by Italian publishing house Rizzoli.
An Injection of Red at Giorgio Armani
What black is to other designers, blue is to Armani. He knows just how to capitalize on the ability of the color to invigorate and mesmerize. His latest collection makes a star out of red, but the blues and grays mitigate its fiery effect with a refinement and elegance that we have come to expect from the seasoned designer. Pairing vibrant reds with indigo, lapis, navy and slate gray was a lesson in color mastery. There was an added dimension from the sheerness of his choice of fabrics. A suit in woven stripe organza cut on a diagonal with seamless sleeves looked effortless and elegant. The red tassel hanging from the triangular scarf completed the look and gave it just the right levity.
No doubt the great sheer floppy hat was the highlight of the collection; great meaning its size as well as the dramatic and sculptural effect it created. It's the kind of accessory that would be just perfect for that Lake Como garden party with the Clooneys.
There were sheer shorts as well, lined with a fabric that was far enough from opaque to retain the airy feel, yet modest as well. Pants had pleats so that the fabric captured the light as it glided over the diaphanous texture.
It is in these details that Armani's ingenuity lies. The design elements in themselves are nothing new, yet when all of them come together with such mastery through every collection, every year, decade after decade – that is something to behold.
Forty years is a long time to be in the rag trade. The thought that at the ripe old age of 81 Armani might begin to slow down, or eventually stop, is almost traumatic to contemplate. Many happy returns.
With Love From Italia, Dolce & Gabbana
No one knows Italian kitsch like someone who has grown up in it. Having mined motherhood in their fall 2015 collection, Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce went for the whole of Italy, in a geographic sense. Taking inspiration from vintage posters featuring Italy's attractions, the designers created fun printed dresses with classic tailoring thus marrying the novelty of their painterly motifs with simple shapes – much like mobile advertising boards for tourists, albeit more elegant.
Not much of Italian home craft escaped either. Crocheted doilies, naïve art appliques, colorful embroideries, sequins and lace contributed to the flirty mood of the collection. This time the models smiled and stopped to take selfies showcasing their equally embellished smart phone covers.
"Italy is love", "Italia forever" was the message to behold. Italy is …. just too much sometimes. Yet among the jest, the lemons (lots of lemons), roses and doilies, there was an air of endearment to the collection with a slight air of subversion, as is often the case with fashion.
Teetering on the edge of kitsch, the collection is more likely to appeal to overseas buyers who will relish the opportunity to serve as ironic billboards for a country that they might have visited yet never quite understood.