After entering the Paris couture season as an Italian outsider a few years ago, Giorgio Armani has relaxed into his stride. Dispensing with hats and other distracting accoutrements, his show opened with a concise essay on what he has always been known for: elegant and easy pantsuits. It wasn't an exact repeat of the unstructured tailoring with which he captured the loyalty of working women in the eighties, but rather a finely tuned update that combined feminine, trumpet-sleeved jackets with a great new cut of ankle-grazing, high-waisted pleated trousers. Better still, by breaking up the suits into contrasting pieces of powder-pink tops and menswear fabric bottoms (and vice versa), he neatly consigned the dour look of corporate uniform to the past.
At a time when designers have been producing tricky, experimental trouser shapes (and Armani, to be fair, has been among them in recent seasons), these will be manna to pants-loving women who've spent so long in the wilderness. So, too, will some of his jackets, especially the precisely tailored, neatly square-shouldered tuxesand, for anyone with an eye for an attention-grabbing evening look, the glam silver python number. Of course, tailoring is only half of what Armani has to offer in couture. For full-on event dressing, he has countless solutions in beading and chiffon. Best, though, was the simplest: a strapless column, half black, half white, tied with a velvet bow under the bust. It was old-school glamour nailed with a modern minimalist's eye: the thinglike the pantsuitMr. Armani excels at.