You can take the designer out of Milan, but you can’t take the Milan out of the designer. Giorgio Armani may have come to London to show his collection last night but he still imported his special brand of European slickness. A custom built catwalk in Tobacco Dock with black carpets, lounge music, models coming down the catwalk in pairs and ridiculously chiselled doormen, in black tie, mimicked the show experience at the Armani headquarters in Milan. The last time the designer, now in his 80s, decamped to London from Milan to show a collection was in 2006, for the launch of the Emporio Armani Product Red line. He finds the city “very changed.”
The designer known for pioneering the idea of the global lifestyle brand was showing in London to coincide with the reopening of the new Emporio Armani store on New Bond Street: “starting out here on the new path for Emporio is highly symbolic,” stated the show notes.
And what is that new path? Emporio Armani is one of three lines within the megabrand to have survived a streamlining process. Earlier this year the Giorgio Armani group revealed plans to rationalise its numerous sub-brands as it reported a fall in group sales of 5 per cent in 2016. Seven brands are being merged into just three, effective SS18: the ones that remain are high-end Giorgio Armani, Emporio Armani (where a checked shirt dress is on sale on the website for £470) and the more affordable Armani Exchange. The proliferation of so many different branches was considered to have diluted the Armani prestige, and is in line with similar streamlining at Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs.
The show began with a childlike print of crustaceans, fish and waves; cartoonish shell and crab motifs scuttled across T-shirts, coats and jersey skirts, with pink vest dresses featuring a big crab logo, and a parka embroidered with shells. It did seem a bit of a random pattern, but then maybe crabs are set to be 2018’s version of the ‘it’ motif, and Mr Armani knows something we don’t. This sealife section was accessorised with clear pink perspex satchels in the shape of shells.
The collection moved away from the seabed and on to the yacht deck via signature softly-tailored suits in white, baby blue and pink with a ticking stripe. The plainer suits for men, including a grey version with cropped boxy jacket and loose trousers, demonstrated the designer’s legendary reputation for tailoring, it was a shame not to see more neutral-coloured suiting for the working woman.
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