Giorgio Armani may not offer the showy catwalk pyrotechnics of other labels, nor rack up the same column inches and editorial spreads, but he nailed the bottom line decades ago. He sells. In fact, all-important sell-through of Mr Armani's wares is always impressive, often outstanding. With the company's expansion into China, it looks set to increase even further:bthe menswear trade accounts for 60% of the entire fashion market in the Far East, and the quiet classicism of Armani has effectively carved a corner in this most fertile of fashion retail soil.
So for Autumn/Winter 2012 we should look not for flash and dazzle, but for dollars and euros. An Armani suit is a safe investment for any rocky climate, economic or fashion. It's also been something of a point of reference for designers this week, scrambling to filch from the well-established Armani codes and make their own reintreptation. After all, his name is synonymous with Italian tailoring like no other designer. That's a pretty hefty legacy for young pretends to the crown of Italy's most famous fashion label.
Armani called his collection 'A Play On Fabric', emphasising the focus paid to the textures of textiles as defining the silhouette. That meant not only traditional tweeds and wools, quadruple-darted at the hip to drape into full volume, but also double-breasted coats in knit, and quilted overcoats and trousers in velvet, soft as a robe and comfortable as pyjamas respectively. Those sound theatrical, perhaps, but they were low-key and utterly wearable, refreshing in a season where the focus has overwhelmingly been on dressing up.
Dressing up not only entails the evening slant of many of the Milanese collections, but also their air of fantasy, the sense of men assuming a character through the clothes they wear. Clothes maketh the man, as they say - and this season they seem to be making believe, letting men be everything from misguided military cadets to seventies racing drivers, and anything inbetween. The obvious question this raises, however, is where exactly real men go for real clothes. Armani is the answer.