Photographer Aldo Fallai shaped the popular image of Giorgio Armani's clothes from the late seventies onward. Now that there's a huge exhibition in Florence devoted to Fallai's work, you have to wonder whether Armani felt even more inclined than he has of late to reflect on his back pages. There was definitely a Fallai mood to his latest presentation: The greige palette, the white shirts with the small stand-up collar buttoned to the neck and no tie, the waistcoats all these elements triggered memories of the sensual, shadowy, timelessly cinematic quality of Fallai's photos. They crystallized in a collection where the classic Armani jacket well and truly crossed over into cardigan country. The raglan sleeve ruled.
In truth, it wasn't really that much of a leap. A cardigan is just about the most slouchily comfortable piece of clothing in a man's wardrobe, and Armani's revolutionary unstuffing of men's jackets borrowed that comfort level. But there was no slouch with his jackets today. They were soft but insistent, defining the torso with quiet strength. The show notes mentioned "an anatomical study." For once, the words weren't a flack's flimflam.
The same gracious spirit prevailed elsewhere in the collection: in big, soft coats that had the casually belted ease of a bathrobe; in the drawstring waists on trousers; in the way that luxury was defused by cutting croc into a simple shirt jacket, or pairing lustrous leather pants with a real cardigan. And the rhythm of the show itself seemed significant. Just a gentle flow, no sense of building to the traditional eveningwear climax. Instead, there were more of those jackets in velvet, over a T-shirt and waistcoat. Supremely unfussy. Then Armani suddenly stepped out from behind the curtain to take his bow, and we were left with the impression that what we'd seen was probably so close to the way he himself dresses that there was no reason for him to make a fuss about it. It spoke for itself.