Sophia Loren graces Armani front row at Milan Fashion Week

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Armani pays tribute to ‘new femininity’ at Milan fashion week.

MILAN — Giorgio Armani had the last word at Milan Fashion Week, which wrapped up six days of womenswear previews for next spring and summer on Monday, launching a book that looks back on his life. “While I am alive, there will be independence,” Armani, 81, told reporters Monday after his spring-summer fashion show in Milan. “Soon after, perhaps I will have prepared the ground for a type of independence that is more measured, more controlled.” Some of the biggest names in fashion are presenting succession quandaries as they enter their twilight years. Armani, one of the founders of the Milan ready-to-wear scene, celebrates 40 years of his fashion house this year, and he said he wrote the book because “inside of me there are memories and sensations that I needed to let out.” But the 81-year-old designer said the book was less than an autobiography, which he still intends to write, describing it instead as text accompanying photographs. The actress emanated glamour and sophistication as she flashed a royal wave to the crowd ahead of watching the luxury brand’s Spring/Summer 2016 collection go down the runway.

The designer’s latest collection, shown during Milan Week, particularly reminded one of beach party movies, a 1960s film subgenre focusing on all things chic nautical fashion—yet the look was elevated here, with new twists on the classic breton stripe (not to mention oversized sun hats). The star was joined by a host of Italian celebrities as she enjoyed a front row look at veteran designer Giorgio’s latest colourful, urban glam collection.

At stake are combined annual revenue of more than $40 billion and Europe’s hold on the global market for designer handbags, shoes and other personal luxury goods. Sophia has often spoken of her desire to grow old gracefully, and it was plain to see she had stuck to her values, with just some rosy blush and pink lipstick enhancing her striking features. Armani, who rose to prominence dressing Richard Gere in the 1980 film American Gigolo, said last year he hasn’t made up his mind about what happens to his business after him.

Outside the shows, the human peacocks who live to be photographed and haven’t quite twigged that “relaxed is the new glamour”, still teeter around in stripper heels and clothes than in any other context would be deemed fetish wear at best, gauchely garish at worst. A clog-like sole replaced the classic roping of an espadrille, but had three ropes glued around the midsole—a sort of ode to its original inspiration.

What followed was as experimental as the famously understated designer gets: there were transparent trousers and pinky sunrise stripes that gave clothes an ombré effect, as well as a plethora of pink-toned grey shorts suits and boleros in tapestries of red, white and navy. Sophia, best known for her roles in Two Women and Marriage Italian-Style, shockingly confessed last year that she was strongly advised by film industry bosses to have cosmetic surgery when she was starting out. ‘They were saying that my nose was too long and my mouth was too big. You never know.” Vogue international editor Suzy Menkes, who introduced the book, credited Armani with being a revolutionary in the fashion world and praised him for never falling prey to some of fashion’s more vulgar tendencies. “I think it is probably very hard for a generation much younger than me, who was brought up on stretch fabric and bomber jackets to believe that a comfortable jacket was actually a revolution,” Menkes said.

The accessories were particularly quirky: hats with oversized brims with sheer stripes that enabled the wearer to see; silk neckerchiefs trimmed with hard red tassels; 2ft-long fabric tubes that fanned out from the neck and draped over the torso like tentacles. The designer has no children, though his nephew and two nieces are on the board, and has previously explored deals with Hermes International SCA and Arnault’s LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE. The technical organza created see-through but structured trousers, shorts and skirts for day and evening that formed the centerpiece of the collection, anchoring elegant looks with open swing jackets with liberating three-quarter sleeves and organza tops.

At the end, two models swished crystal-studded blue gowns to display red underskirts with hems that had been wired into a permanent state of undulation. Rather it concerns overtly crafted clothes worn with contrived disregard: understated but clearly expensive loafers, ideally with the back-leather trodden down, intricately woven coats sliding off shoulders, richly embroidered, antique looking tops worn with silk trousers that feel like jogging pants – and often look like them too.

Ribbed organza trousers were sometimes worn under skirts and dresses for a textured effect, while what appears to be a silken mini-dress is actually a jumpsuit that reveals the legs. Armani is often accused of presenting fairly similar clothes year in, year out – his celebrated languid tailoring is far from broken, so why fix it? He’s also behind the Armani hotels in Milan and Dubai. “Being able to choose the light that you like in an office as much as designing an unruly or highly elegant collection, this is independence,” said Armani, who serves as owner, creative director and chief executive officer of the company he founded 40 years ago. “But you need means to maintain independence.”

Master of the killer red carpet dress that also looks – relatively speaking – comfortable, his art is to inject sporty basics with luxurious hallmarks, tone down the grand statement, bling up the casual. Armani’s nighttime collection received multiple rounds of applause form the fashion crowd, primarily for the jackets elaborately embroidered with beads and crystals paired with Bermuda shorts. The scene is emblematic of that passage from girlhood to womanhood that Austrian-born Arthur Arbesser was working to capture in his debut Milan runway collection. “Lolita” is the obvious reference. Versace, set up in 1978, is considered the brash, sexy opposite of his taste and refinement; Prada’s intellectual take on fashion is viewed as a stark contrast to Armani and Versace.

When Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana were rising through the ranks, their enfant terrible status was never more pronounced than when they fell out with elder statesman over designs for quilted trousers. (Armani accused the pair of plagiarism. Stripy-wedge flat-forms (Milan is once again obsessed with the stripe) of block coloured high heeled Mary Janes, geometric red and white prints and glossy bags all added to the currency.

There’s also a full white skirt with a proud-sitting white cat that fades into the background, paired with a transparent mesh polo, which off the runway would be worn with a camisole.

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