In a marked departure from Giorgio Armani’s career-length homage to neutral colors, clean lines, and elegant symmetry, the latest couture collection from Armani Privé is more suited for a high-fashion Jane Jetson. Leaving no space-age fabric behind, Armani crafted unconventional silhouettes with metallic silks, reflective organza, and metal mesh–materials you’d be hard pressed to find in any previous Armani collection, ever.
The looks were largely monochromatic, with knee length dresses over leggings, topped by metal hats resembling various shapes of flying saucers or mesh fencing veils. Many of the floor-length gowns feature a waist-level cut-out, exposing a jolt of complementing or contrasting color–a similar look to the surrealist Viktor & Rolf gowns from last winter.
Expected to appear at the show’s close in a space suit and helmet, Armani attributed the line’s inspiration to an unusual piece of jewelry he found in Milan, as evidenced by the show’s backdrop: giant faceted gemstones in the same jewel tones seen throughout the line. While Armani’s latest might not be terribly wearable, we appreciate his devotion to a cohesive theme, and if we ever complete a mission to Mars, we know exactly where we’ll be shopping for the trip.
I think we can all learn something from Giorgio Armani’s knack for time management — with upwards of six collections a year under his belt (no doubt made of the finest shagreen), “compromise” just doesn’t exist in the man’s fashion vocabulary. Instead he manages to churn out one magnanimous collection after another for each Armani-emblazoned label, each collection more opulent than the next — the finest, of course, that of his couture contribution, Prive. The 2010 Couture collection couldn’t be any more defiant of the current economic clime, which made our smile a little wider. And though I could only enjoy the dazzle from a poorly-lit LED screen, there was no shortage of thrill in my digital digs.
The show opened with a parade of the finest examples of Mr. Armani’s forte — the usual flurry of shiny, satiny suiting, ultra-modern yet befitting the traditionally high standards he set himself so many years ago. Many pieces exhibited that exciting Armani asymmetry we’ve come to look forward to. Such a large collection — 55 looks — held high-priced answers to so many fashion questions, so after a few dresses raised my eyebrows toward the edgy riffs of the 80s, I had to ask, “Can couture be punk?” The don answered yes with a stream of beaded, feathered, unexpectedly short and animal-printed exotica, whetting my appetite for Mr. Armani’s saucier side. After the punk revolution passed, the show relaxed back into traditional Prive fare, an elegant extravaganza of beaded, fitted, sheer-in-all-the-right-places wardroberies, all topped with slightly tilted beanie hats, giving us a reason to refer to the Armani Prive wearer as a donna, rather than a mere woman.
Verdict: There’s a reason couture is only for the select few, and it’s not only because it’s mad difficult. While for most collections, what’s sketched as inspiration rarely is executed verbatim to the drawing, Armani Prive is nothing short of a fantasy lived out.