It's always very appropriate that the Milan menswear week is brought to a close by Giorgio Armani - he is the last show most of us foreign press see before dashing off home for one night of normality before the Paris shows begin. Armani is, after all, the unrivalled grand high master of Italian fashion. Everything, from his giant showspace-cum-fortress to his sale figures, proves that. But, Armani's been championing new talent recently. Milan is a city known for its unhelpful attitude towards young designers - there's none of the support, both financial or otherwise, that you get in London with things like Fashion East and NEWGEN. Just a few young stars appear on the schedule - Umit Benan, Andrea Pompilio, and Francesco Scognamiglio. But Armani is trying to change all that. Earlier this month he announced that he'd be lending out his mammoth showspace to fashion newbies for free, something that kicked off this season with the Pompilio show. Only a designer with self-assurance would willingly give some brilliant young upstart such a large leg up, and with it a chance to steal the limelight.
But this S/S 14 collection proves why Armani needn't fret - after decades in the industry he's still moving forward, knowing full well that no-one blends smart and casual as effectively as him. 'Let them try and trump me', he's saying! This season he'd kept his focus on soft sportswear, and has continued to rely on navy as the base of his palette. But to keep things fresh he'd added jolts of colour, which ranged from a bold red to an grass green. But Armani is a fan of subtlety and lightness, so these pops were balanced with pastel hues and ivory. The biggest surprises on show were graphic prints, used on everything from jackets to shoes and accessories - an unusual twist for Armani and proof that he's always got more tricks up his sleeve.