They are clothes, of course, but with their rigidity and staticity of style, are they fashion?
I always find it fascinating, if not particularly enlightening, to read the collection notes at a Giorgio Armani show. Eschewing the factual, Armani's read like a cross between a 1930s Surrealist tract and a slightly limp excerpt from a Mills and Boon novel. Today, according to Mr Armani, that ever-elusive Armani woman is 'reflected in the mirror of her own fantasies, exploring the full range of her senses.' Well, there was a bottle of perfume on every seat, so I suppose that's sight and smell covered.
Another sense, of course, is taste. I for one am never quite sure if Giorgio Armani is to mine. These clothes seem so far removed from everything else shown in Milan - or indeed anywhere else - that they barely function on the plane of contemporary fashion. They are clothes, of course, but with their rigidity and staticity of style, are they fashion? Maybe it is best to leave that kind of philosophical tussle for the folks who write the Armani show programme to ponder.
Today's Giorgio Armani show was titled 'Boudoir'. There was nothing especially deshabille about it, although there was a healthy dose of that particular powdery pastel pink used to colour marabou bedroom mules and the filmy negligees sported by many a 1960s sitcom housewife. Armani used it in a couple of sharp day suit with mid-thigh tunics over boot-cut trousers. They looked oddly fresh, but would have looked better if the models jettisoned their strange metal-bound handbags, flat and slightly curved like an oversized fragment of a scimitar.
Bar these suits in pink and grey (the best fry-fronted and shorn of detail in the most severe Armani fashion), this was a collection for evening, glistening with iridescent cloth, twinkling with beads, occasionally tangled with fringe when it came to a couple of unfortunate evening stoles. Evening is always a bit hit-and-miss with Armani - he's a better tailor than he is a dressmaker. The misses here were a proliferation of lumpy, mid-calf bubble-shaped frocks that conspired against the body to obliterate the waist and inflate the thighs like a fattened grub.The hits? Slender velvet trousers under simple wrapped jackets, ankle-length intricately-embroidered evening gowns with an elongated silhouette, and a glittering silk trench-coat furrowed in bugle-beaded chevrons. The ease of that evening proposal was echoed in luminescent sequin jackets partnered with loose velvet trousers, and vice versa. They made the twenty-something models look forty something - and will have the exact same effect on Armani's sixty-something customers. And that's exactly who they are designed for.