Updated: June 29, 2019 6:31:57 pm
The show was of summer clothes, of course, and yet more than anything it emblematized a lion in winter. Like Henry II of England, Giorgio Armani is an aged monarch with no designated heir to his throne.
Having created a multibillion-dollar company almost single-handedly over nearly five decades, Armani — by training an architectural draftsman who entered fashion as a stylist and only reluctantly became a businessman after the death of his life partner, Sergio Galeotti, in 1985 from complications of AIDS — has built his career on cunning and, not infrequently, hubristic self-reliance.
He swats away both trends and deep-pocketed corporate suitors and exerts his sway over an Italian industry he continues to dominate in a manner that can be regal to the point of caprice.
When Armani announced late in the process that he would shift a show that typically ends the Milan Fashion Week calendar on a Monday morning, allowing everyone involved time to sprint to the airport and Paris, to the early evening of that same day, international buyers and the press were sent scrambling to alter schedules booked months in advance.
The show was held, for the first time in nearly 20 years, at Armani headquarters in via Borgonuovo, an 18th-century Orsini Palace in the heart of downtown Milan. The surrounding streets were cordoned off for an event far less notable for anything worn by models parading at stylized zombie pace around a colonnaded internal courtyard than for the terminating moment when Armani took his bow.
Yes, absolutely there were the many elements of the Armani vocabulary: linen suits, loose shirting, checked trousers in overlaid patterns of patched color blocks, collarless double-breasted tunics, cotton work jackets, silk shorts with rolled cuffs for prosthodontists with delusions of yacht grandeur and embroidered stuff that clearly drew inspiration from the designer’s couture line, Armani Privé.
Yet most often nowadays you go to an Armani show awaiting the moment at its conclusion when Armani — still notably handsome, fit and virile looking, although born in 1934 — emerges from backstage to greet his adoring subjects. (Here they included actor Samuel L. Jackson.)
Head partly bowed, Armani raises his palms like those of a prophet and pumps them gently, his eyes scanning the audience to gauge his effect. As if overcome by a response he has personally engineered, Armani retreats in slow backward steps and with a humility whose ostentation is worthy of the greatest thespian.
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