Presented in two co-ed shows before an audience of VIPs including Uma Thurman and Tadao Ando, the show captured Armani’s special ability to create highly commercial tailoring; haute glamor and red carpet glory all in one collection.
Above all, the clothes underlined how much Armani has been influenced by Asian and, in particular, Japanese aesthetics.
“Japan is one of the civilizations that have always created marvels of beauty. It is a unique aesthetic; a certain simplicity with rigor. Combining the austere minimalism of its modern architecture with a rich understanding of its multi-layered history. That’s why I love Japan!” said Armani in a pre-show press conference.
Looking trim and tanned and dressed in fluid pants, a deconstructed double-breasted jacket in jersey cashmere with a faded denim finish; navy blue cashmere crewneck and white sneakers.
The elongated silhouette of the women’s looks had the classical Armani fluidity, hung from pronounced shoulders injecting masculine tailoring. For women on the move, impeccably crisp pantsuits in houndstooth or pinstripe. Faux tortoiseshell everywhere – from printed tunics and bracelets to handbags and amulets.
For evening he showed beautiful long gowns in washed silk with tortoiseshell effects and coated jacquards. A massive show with a total of 122 looks.
Armani has come late to the cruise runway scene – brands like Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and, above all, Chanel have been staging mega events across the global for the past decade. However, Armani remains a cult figure with an almost rock-star godlike reputation in Japan, as the scores of guests who waited, bowing humbly for a photo with him, underlined.
For men, the Italian couturier played with softly tailored suits sculpting the body; perfectly cut knit jackets; clever shawl-collar pea coats; and some superb dusters; along with lots of polished sportswear. He also proposed a sensational series of suits – reminding his audience – 380 for each of his two shows – that Armani is the single most influential tailor in menswear in the past half-century. Playing with a palette of chocolates, browns and beiges in the collection.
“Coffee is the new gray of Giorgio Armani,” quipped the designer, who managed to fit in a three-day visit to Kyoto on this trip.
Again, while in the former imperial capital, hundreds of fans stopped him to politely request selfies.
Armani first came to Japan back in the ’80s, when he was one of five designers invited to receive an award. The group included Karl Lagerfeld, Hanae Mori, Zandra Rhodes and Perry Ellis.
“Back then I was a little baby designer and could not believe I would be invited. Karl and Mr. Fairchild (the legendary editor-in-chief of industry bible Women’s Wear Daily) were my mentors. They taught me to how to hold my conductor’s baton. That’s when I knew that this country would mean something important to me in my life,” waxed Armani almost nostalgically.
While here on this trip, Armani also reopened his giant flagship in shopping nerve center Ginza.
“I didn’t make this collection thinking of Japan. Even though I knew I was coming to reopen the new Armani Tower. If this collection went back to Milan tomorrow it would work, we already have heaps of buyers waiting to buy it. But when I arrived here in Tokyo, I realized that the collection was more modern, easier and more relaxed with a freer sense of research. It’s Armani but seen though a Japanese lens.
These clothes are for the Japanese woman I have in mind,” explained the octogenarian designer.
Armani’s brand may have cooled somewhat of late, but he still expects the brand to return to growth within the next two years. Armani remains the single most important luxury brand still fully owned by its founder, anywhere in the world. No wonder Armani acts proud. He should be.
“Here in Tokyo, walking about the streets, I was happy to see just how many people wearing Armani. You know, the Japanese are more Armani than Armani,” laughed Giorgio, who often refers to himself in the third person.
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