Sep 26, 2016
Armani revels in new freedom with catwalk charm offensive
Sep 26, 2016
Giorgio Armani took centre stage at the Milan fashion shows on Friday with the veteran designer unveiling a flirty, exotic look for Spring-Summer 2017.
In his first collection since he moved to ensure his giant style empire will continue as an independent entity once he is no longer at the reins, the 82-year-old struck what he termed a "new balance between discipline and freedom."
Whether it was down to this summer's landmark corporate restructuring is anyone's guess.
But there was definitely a sense of the master of soft precision tailoring cutting himself a little more slack than usual with a string of more overtly seductive pieces than is the Armani norm.
Charm was what it was all about, according to the designer's notes on the collection, "in the sense of elegance and sensuality, but also of magic and femininity."
In practice what that meant was that many of the pieces were designed to allow legs to be unveiled then covered up again, frequently with the aid of long, swinging tassles.
There were also exotic sarong skirts and shorts and trousers in soft, figure-emphasising jersey fabrics.
Jumpsuits were combined with woven leather cropped jackets and there were shawls resembling the chunky nets of tuna fishermen.
The easygoing, floaty feeling was accentuated by a range of delicate sandals, flat slippers and strappy boots that produced a fishnet stocking effect on the calf.
Purples and blues dominated the colour palette, offset by touches of white, greige and red.
Micro-sequins and crystal embroidery abounded in sparkly evening wear predominately cut from ultra-light fabrics, including georgette and organza.
- 'Absolute independence' -
As ever, the show in the Teatro Armani concluded with the designer emerging briefly from backstage in his trademark working clothes of navy blue long-sleeved top and high-tech sweatpants to briefly return the audience's applause.
With his deep tan, scrupulously tended head of white hair and a silhouette honed by daily workouts, Armani could easily pass for a much younger man.
But he has long been conscious that there will come a day when he can no longer be the hands-on controller of the empire he has run for over four decades.
This summer he finally did something about it by creating a foundation that will be charged with social and philanthropic activities but also with ensuring that the company continues to be run on principles laid down by the founder.
Armani is the sole owner of a group he founded in 1975 and, with no children of his own, does not have a natural heir, although a nephew and two nieces are involved in the company.
Over the years he has flirted with the idea of a partnership with one of the major conglomerates that control much of the global luxury sector.
But he has always been averse to taking his company public: he once said he could not stand the idea of dealing with "whining shareholders" over the running of an empire that spans cosmetics, interiors and hotels as well as the upscale clothing it is best known for.
With sales last year of 2.65 billion euros ($3 billion), Armani is Italy's second biggest fashion group by turnover, just behind Prada.
When he announced the creation of the Giorgio Armani Foundation, the designer said it would be tasked with keeping Armani "stable over time, in respect of and consistent with some principles that are particularly important to me."
Those principles included autonomy and independence, an ethical approach to management, innovation and excellence and prudent financial management based on minimal debt and careful acquisitions.
The priority, he said at the time, was "absolute independence."
"It is the foundation on which I built my business and the last I am willing to give up."
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