For A/W 2011 Armani titled his collection 'Remix In Grey' - as if to underline the fact that this less about invention and more reinvention.
Fashion design these days seems to be all about remixing, with designers sampling decades, styles and garments like a DJ samples songs, synthesising the borrowed elements into a new whole. When the designer is Giorgio Armani, however, it's about pulling from his own back-catalogue - the man's career spans four decades (approaching a fifth) so he has an enviable array of past styles to reference. Being one of the most potent influences on international fashion in the latter quarter of the twenty-first century probably helps a bit, too.
For A/W 2011 Armani titled his collection 'Remix In Grey' - as if to underline the fact that this less about invention and more reinvention. So is much of menswear - about reinterpreting classic designs and giving them a fresh twist, all the while trying to avoid scaring the horses. One of the best ways to do that is through the framework of the grey suit - conventional city suiting at its least frightening. Armani's harked back to his big innovation of the seventies, the semi-fitted suit - bringing ease and fluidity into men's dress. His suits today were as casual as they come, city suit meets sweatsuit if you will, albeit in the finest cashmeres. There was a touch of drape and volume to his trouser, a trend of the week although Armani steered clear of anything approaching a jodhpur. There was also plenty of velvet, another key note for next season, finest in head-to-toe suits of black shot through with a subtle iridescence, slouchy velvet track-pants formalised with a tuxedo stripe of satin.
Armani sends his models marching down the catwalk in such great numbers that, with all those suits, it can look a little like a great greet Wall Street exodus - or at least the evening rush to happy hour at Nell's circa August 1987. And, just as with a bustling crowd on any city-street, not everyone is immaculately dressed. Sheer sweaters, dodgy sarongs and a few of those muddy, marshy shearlings that popped up earlier in the week at Emporio failed to get the heart racing. They felt too 'fashion' for the Armani catwalk - and, as if to prove the point, the best looks were the most classic. Even Mr Armani singled his opening outfit for praise: in his own words, 'A beautifully designed and weighty overcoat teamed with flannel suit/tracksuit, a shirt in jersey and a tie.' Quietly classic, subtly radical. That's exactly what men will want to wear.