'Fancy Girl' is the kind of press release phrase that strikes fear into a fashion journalist's heart - on one hand because its peculiar cadence hints at a show programme in indecipherable English, but mainly because ideas of fanciness and girlishness are antithetical to the Minimal woman who has been fashion's muse for the past few seasons. That said, the phrase was the inspiration behind Giorgio Armani's Emporio collection for S/S 2011, and as the hand who introduced minimal tailoring into women's sartorial vocabulary back in the late seventies, we can give him the benefit of the doubt.
Armani's collection didn't stray too far from his established formula - the neutral tailoring he's been perfecting for four decades now. This time, the best were jackets cut to curve proudly back from the body like a frock-coat with defined shoulders. Armani also got the message about shifting hemlines, but decided to tackle it in an unusual way, placing tunics, skirts and shorts over transparent leggings and mid-calf skirts in stretch tulle. These looked modern and interesting - a few other designers have suggest similar solutions to our uncertainty in the long versus short debate, but none with quite Armani's aplomb.
That was the good. Less successful were the loud palm-leaf prints, wide stripes and frilled, mother of the bride chiffons in a shade Mr Armani himself dubbed 'Watermelon Pink'. Credit where credit's due, they lived up to that name, making his slender models resemble overripe fruit: we can but tremble to think what they may look like on his more generously proportioned clientele. Still, given Mr Armani's years in the business, the occasional stumble is not so much understandable as inevitable. And to borrow a nursery rhyme phrase, when this collection was good it was indeed very, very good.