Hybrids and amalgamations were the focus of Giorgio Armani this season. Where Gucci focused on a post-human cyborg, Armani firmly rooted his work in the present. 'My work is a reaction to the times we live,' he said, fusing cultures from around the world into one Armani vision.
Accordingly, references within the A/W 18 collection were far-reaching and disparate. There were Russian folk looks that featured huge ornamental jewellery, as well as traditional embroidery on dresses and coats. An occasional furred cossack hat was thrown in for good measure. Victorian England got a shout out too, with pointed, over-the-knee lace-up boots in red, black and white.
Velvets, furs, feathers and glitter ran across the designs, building to a crescendo with racier dresses and suits. Given the ambitious range of references, there could have been a disconnect. However, some well-chosen unifiers kept an identifying thread running throughout the collection. A palette of fuchsia pink, duck blue and signature Armani grey featured alongside the occasional abstract print.
The silhouettes were continuously slinky and asymmetric, with a sprinkling of menswear. The cut of the suits shifted from sharply tailored to looser fitting. Although I didn’t feel that they added much to the collection, you can’t really fault a good Armani suit.
After the show was the presentation of the first Armani Laboratorio film. A short piece made by young Italian filmmakers in partnership with established industry mentors and backed by the brand. Entitled The Jacket, the narrative was based around the Armani suit jacket and how it empowered women – in particular how it transformed the fate of a twenty-something trying to catch a break in the Milanese fashion industry.
While numerous other brands are going after millennials on social media or trying to innovate their offering in order to appear hip and relevant, going back to a more traditional form of patronage seems savvy. Armani are looking beyond the immediate and investing in something more long-term. After all, if anyone knows about making talent made to last it’s an 83-year-old designer still leading the game.