Neodesign, the title Giorgio Armani gave his Emporio collection, suggests something sci-fi. The show itself compounded that idea with the glitter of crystal, a palette of bright white and icy pastel, and rings-of-Saturn silhouettes lifted from the Pierre Cardin songbook. The models, too, were blond-wigged replicants, topped with incongruous little boaters and toed in Lucite wedges that glowed like Kryptonite. You might assume from this that Armani wanted to smooth out human individuality so the focus fell squarely on the character of the clothes. However, his vision was so cool and muted that the overriding impression was of an icy, Metropolis-like uniformity, despite a finale that married one model in a black pantsuit to another in a skirt of shimmering crystal.
It was, however, a streamlined athletic uniformity, lapel-less, strapless, undulating in those hooped hems. Construction was important. Seams were outlined in black, which added a curious two-dimensional quality to the clothes. There were trompe l'oeil details, like the waistcoat back on a jacket. There was also a shimmering glamour in the way sequins were used. It wasn't, in fact, so much a future that was being explored as an out-of-time moment that synthesized the then, the now, and the still to come. And when it worked, it had its own chilly allure.