Trend alert: As designers begin to sound out what women will want during a severe recession, many of the resonances are coming up thirties, a time of glamour against the odds. That's not to say that a Giorgio Armani collection could ever be anything but his own style, or that in this season it could be anything but clearly directed toward the imminent Academy Awards, but there was something in the chinoiserie of it that did spell Shanghai in the thirties. It was there in the pagoda-shouldered jackets; the lacquer reds; the tasseled fastenings; the Chinese-cabinet florals; and the tight, hobbling silhouettes of the decadents who populated the city then known as "the Paris of the East."
That would make a neat story, but it's possible to overthink these things. Armani has always loved Asian aesthetics and he's been a frequent flyer to the East since he extended his empire there half a decade ago, so in many ways he's just going back over territory he's explored often before. In any case, this collection really fell into two parts: the pagoda tailoring and the power play for the Hollywood red carpet. The latter was more effective, especially the shimmering paillette hourglass sheaths and the plethora of strapless gowns. As we all know, strapless shows no signs of dying out as the event uniform of choice. Which is why Armani doubtless spoke with full confidence in smartly rebutting the R-word question with, "I am sure this collection will be a success."