Sportsmanship, the name Giorgio Armani
gave his signature show today, could be read a couple of ways: expertise at physical pursuits, or ownership of a set of traditional values. Armani's new collection stood for both. His clothes were an efficient celebration of athletic male energy while simultaneously embodying the timeless design signature that he sees as an expression of common sense and substance in the face of a world that he feels possesses no great amount of either.
The Lou Reed anthem that opened the show tended to rather counterintuitively highlight that it's the mild—rather than the wild—side that Armani takes a walk on, but who needs edge when they've got the comfort of deep-pleated pants, the flattery of a jersey blazer that expertly defines their worked-out body, or the personal pleasure of fabrics that are never quite what they seem? One of the most appealing features of Armani's clothes is that they look and feel so natural. Today, there were crumpled suits and linen blazers that looked as if they'd been worn for years, seersucker pants that were attractively slouchy rather than off-puttingly crisp, jackets that might have been hopsack, and four-button affairs that stretched out the torso.
You know all of it was achieved with exactly the same effort that went into such extremes of luxury as the alligator jacket with a golden syrup glow and the trim fencing jacket in white python, but somehow it didn't read that way. That same illusion of ease illuminated a light mac lined in leather and a swingy white coat that Armani's current favorite face, Simon Nessman, was modeling.
It was an illusion that was punctured by a finale featuring five young sports palling around on the catwalk in white shorts suits and trilbies. The intimacy looked awkward, but even that felt kind of real. Wow! Who'da thunk it? Giorgio Armani, Master of Reality.