Giorgio Armani has spoken recently about the creative frustration of keeping his design within the rigid, straight-and-narrow confines of commercial expectation. Perhaps that's why he chose two eccentrically mismatched inspirations for springElsa Schiaparelli and chinoiserieand dubbed the collection Shocking.
The bizarre effects came most obviously in strange straw turbans, coolie hats, and sparkly surrealist bug pins. Though he opened with a relatively muted beige jacket and a long silk skirt curved up in front, Armani's thought process then veered into variations on Chinese silk pajamas, interspersed with sparkly tiered dresses, hoop-skirted mermaid gowns, and a silk-tasseled fringed bodice.
The sequencing of the show, if not exactly shockingfrom evening to day, and back againcertainly provided some unexpected jolts. Sometimes, however, giving the audience what it wants turns out to be the best policy. Armani did exactly that with a posse of white beaded gownsprecisely the kind of clean glamour his Hollywood faithful require.