The irony of hearing Lou Reed’s seminal ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ as the first models began their jaunt down the Georgio Armani S/S 2013 runway clad in simple, neutral sportswear was marked. There was nothing wild about this offering – a steady, beautifully turned out extension of the Armani signatures, presented with the usual ease and elegance we have come to expect from the grand master of relaxed tailoring.
This season Armani was exploring ‘Sportsmanship’, a genre that has got a lot of airtime this S/S. So what did Signor Armani bring to the table? Well as always the silhouette was natural. Jackets were slightly longer, sporting between four and six buttons. The relaxed elegance extended to the trousers, which came with pleat fronts, another huge trend seen on almost every catwalk at Milan. Also on show was geometric knitwear in supple fabrics and loose shapes – exemplary of the signature fusion of soft and hard in Armani’s work – as well as crinkle-effect linen suits, resembling well-worn treasured favourites. To keep things covetable Armani injected luxury into the collection through intricate amber-hued hardware and a showy golden alligator jacket for the more adventurous customer.
This collection was just as much about an attitude as a clothing style. ‘Sportsmanship’ refereed to a clear set of values, which season-upon-season underpin Armani’s work – elegance, masculine pride, traditional ideals, complete correctness and propriety in all areas of life. While Armani may have been looking forward in his attempts to rework and develop sportswear, he was looking decided backward in his view of masculinity, championing macho-men of a bygone era - the kind for whom fashion meant a well cut suit to wear to the office, and a perfect expensive knit to wear on a date with the wife. Gentlemanliness – that was the real theme. The attitude was best underpinned by the final exit, five white-suited models who appeared smiling tipping their panamas at the audience as if preparing to buy the men in the room a drink and open the door so the ladies could walk through first. They looked comfortable, classic, assured, but ‘wild’ – certainly not.
As a fashion designer there is only so long that you can walk in circles before your clothes stop being about creativity or fashion innovation and just become luxury produce for a niche shopper group. It seems Armani has accepted this – now just working to perfect and pamper his man. The themes of his recent Emporio and Georgio shows suggest he is just trying to supply for all areas of the wardrobe one by one, ‘Sportsmanship’, ‘Essentials’, ‘Impeccable’ ‘Printwear’. Today he’s given his man the perfect mix of luxurious smart-meets-casual products, beautiful made in expensive neutral fabrics. It’s a fitting end for Milan fashion week, where the debate of what men’s fashion should be – luxury as at Gucci, Ferragamo and the like, or innovation as at bourgeoning labels such as Umit Benan – continues to simmer.