In a week in which a very few, very overexposed themes have ricocheted from collection to collection - ever seen 'sixties minimalism' or 'seventies jet-set glamour' before? I thought so - the idea of a collection inspired by international espionage seemed fresh and exciting. And exciting was the word at Emporio Armani, never more so than when Tina Turner made her triumphant entrance and took a seat front-row centre. I don't normally talk about celebrities in attendance at fashion shows, but as Saint Tina of the Immaculate Coiffure elicited a roar of genuine applause from the audience upon her arrival, I figure she deserved a mention.
Placing a superstar like that slap-bang in your front row speaks of a certain confidence about the clothing on show - or an eagerness to detract attention from it. In Armani's case, it was most definitely the former. As if to underline his confidence in these garments, he made them all in inky-black - all the more difficult to see in the cavernous Armani ampitheatre, admittedly, but that sort of fits with his espionage theme.
What rinsing the colour from these clothes also allowed Armani to do is focus on what he really does best, which is tailoring and shape. There were quite a few stunners in this collection - and when one of those includes a jumpsuit with half-a-peplum jutting out at one hip that had all the audience sitting up and taking note (rather than noting puns) you're on to a winner. Eschewing pattern and print, Armani instead experimented with black-on-black texture, contrasting silks and velvets, Mongolian lamb, eco-fur and wool crepe.
As always, Armani covered every base from morning to night: a few of the gonk-fur coats he proposed for evening caused you to wince a bit, aside the uneasy juxtaposition of a very lively wire-hair terrier and fluffy fur tote-bags (a before and after, perhaps?). But the long skirts with flat velvet slippers managed to look like a sensible, but not staid, proposition for after-dark dressing. As for day, each and every pair of trousers, from alpaca drainpipe to zouave, was pin-perfect. A monastically simple wool princess-line coat with full, velvet-banded skirt and high neck was just plain stunning - you could imagine any woman wearing it at any point over the past three centuries, let alone decades, and looking incredible. How often do you get something so genuinely timeless in fashion?