The glossy red invitation for Giorgio Armani’s fall Privé couture show was no red herring, foreshadowing a collection that took most of its cues from roses — and also lacquer boxes from the Far East.
The two motifs arrived gradually, as models in silky, tapered trousers tread a checkerboard runway, first in narrow brocade jackets and densely beaded shirts and tunics.
If quiet luxury has been the undercurrent of this couture season, reflecting a more downbeat mood taking hold in the world, then Armani didn’t get the memo, preferring lustrous fabrics, dense decorations and lots of crystals and beadwork.
His sparkly trousers are sure to be a hit, offering an easy way to dress up for evening. Some came veiled in a second pair of sparkly pants, the hems picked out in small crystals. Stovepipe pants in metallic brocades strode in as a more subdued option.
The season has been light on new tailoring ideas, and so Armani’s swallowtail coats, with their rounded, slightly built-up sleeve heads, caught the eye. Mostly, he preferred natural shoulders, creating a pleasingly narrow silhouette.
The roses arrived slowly at first, as a fabric flourish punctuating a tailored ensemble, or an alternative to a metal buckle or jewel on an evening shoe.
Eventually, the red flower became a dominant motif, bringing to mind a recent Chanel collection hinged heavily on the camellia.
Of course, Armani cultivated the flower theme his way, using rose blooms as 3D embellishments clustered on shoulders, or scattered on flaring evening gowns.
A preponderance of black and gold, and some pagoda embroideries, made one think of lacquered boxes. The press notes, distributed after the show, described “a journey from west to east through elongated silhouettes,” with “hints of other worlds and cultures.”
While the show sometimes felt like a cake with too much decorative frosting, or an overgrown rose garden, there were at least a few dozen long-stemmed beauties.