Giorgio Armani's secret weapon is focus. He'll take one idea and elaborate on it over the course of a collection. Today's focal point was the night sky over the Sahara: warm, velvety blue, scattered with stars. It's also the sky he'd be familiar with from his second home on the island of Pantelleria, halfway to North Africa. That emotional connection was responsible for the kind of single-minded but strong collection that yielded a vintage Armani moment.
Everything was navy shading toward midnight. As the show moved toward evening, sprinklings of crystal and sequins appeared to echo the heavens at night, as in the glittering long skirt and tank that offered a sporty option for red carpets. The Saharan subtext was explicit in the Tuareg head wraps and tribal jewelry, but otherwise, Armani offered multiple variations on city-smart jackets, from tailored and basket-weave leather to peplumed and slash-backed crepe. These were invariably paired with narrow, pleated pants, which created a long, slim silhouette, even with one of the designer's now-signature eccentric interventions. Namely, he layered a skirt under the jacket, over the pants. In Emporio the other day, that skirt was stretch tulle, which looked wrong a lot of the time. Here, Armani got it right—the skirt, even when it was fluted, added something chic and streamlined to the outfit. At a stretch, it echoed the tribal layering of desert nomads, especially in a ribbed, gauzy knit that could have been a Tuareg blanket.
But more than that, it reaffirmed that Armani refuses to be boxed in as Mr. Greige. Sometimes his contrariness works against him. Not today. And never forget that no less an authority than Diana Vreeland insisted that refusal is elegance.