Sunday, February 12, 2017
Giorgio Armani Menswear Spring 2017
Three’s a trend. After Prada and Gucci devoted their Spring 2017 menswear shows to modern journeymen, Giorgio Armani titled his Crossing Borders. A trail of lights illuminated an imaginary path into the distance. In isolation, it’s unusual, because Giorgio Armani is remarkable as the most Milanese of designers—he wasn’t born here, but his earliest fashion experience was, in the windows of the city’s La Rinascente department store.
More than his own geographical location, it’s the ethos of Armani that feels Milanese, a breed of minimalism indebted to rationalism. Hence, whenever Armani globe-trots, it is seen through very specific eyes.
Armani saw the Caribbean in his whorling geometric motifs scrolling through jacquard knitwear. I couldn’t. Perhaps that’s because Armani looks out—from his runway, from his backstage, from shirts on his models’ backs—and we look in. He sees the world in his shows. We see only Giorgio Armani.
In actual fact, sometimes the Armani label can seem a country unto itself. It can never be forgotten that the fragmented identity of Italian fashion comes from a country only unified from disparate states and courts in the late 19th century. Even then, it took almost 60 years. Before then, warring factions and wealthy dynasties—the Medici, the Sforza, the Borgias—controlled their own fiefdoms.
Not so different from, say, the fighting between the families Ferré, Versace, and indeed Armani back in the 1980s, jostling for the supremacy of the prosperous contemporary kingdom of Milanese fashion.
The rites and rituals of the duchies of Italian fashion are as diverse as their liveries—but they all uniformly worship their leaders. Donatella Versace and Miuccia Prada elicit whoops and cheers as they bow at the close of their runway presentations; today, it took the mere presence of Giorgio Armani’s face on a sweater for the loyal factions to erupt in thunderous applause. You wonder what visitors to the Crown State of Armani—today, actor Kevin Spacey and Latin musician Ricky Martin—make of the whole spectacle.
Like any ruler, Armani quashes discussion of dynastic succession—there are enough stories of the vengeful assassinations of Roman emperors to discourage anyone from talking about who may be ruling the empire in his stead. So instead, Armani continues, designing clothes after his much-imitated template, a template that revolutionized menswear way back when and now has settled into easy familiarity.
For the second time this week, after his Emporio show, Armani emphatically reiterated his style codes—his bleached-out, subdued palette of colors; the relaxed silhouette, with jackets hugging but never gripping the body. Looking not for novelty but for continuation.
The injection of not only a sportswear feel but actual honest-to-goodness sporty items into this, Armani’s more formal main line, perhaps showed a bowing to a new, 21st-century definition of relaxed, where a nylon parka rather than a dropped linen shoulder spells casual. The shoes crossbred a technical sneaker sole with a suede moccasin, crossing borders between formal and casual.
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