Giorgio Armani called his new collection Kaleidoscope, and his evening was appropriately splintered between his show in the Armani Teatro and an exhibition he opened in the space next door. Called Eccentrico, the latter focused on a couple of decades of the designer's most extreme flights of fancy from his ready-to-wear and couture collections. Plus that Starship Troopers thing he made for Gaga. Armani has often mused on his love of fashion's grand eccentrics. Just as the exhibition betrayed an unlikely debt to Schiaparelli, it also poignantly highlighted Armani's own yearning to be something more than the Emperor of Greige. And maybe it also freed him in some way to focus in his new collection on the best of himself.
A kaleidoscope splinters light, and that spacey notion informed Armani's clothes, which took a cue from Eccentrico's deep space setting. The first look—a silvery leather coat over a drawstring top and pants in organza—was oh-so-casual but otherworldly in its sheen. It was all in the fabrics. The kurtalike layering—short jacket over long tunic over pants—may be in the air but it's long been a staple of the Armani design vocabulary, especially in that ineffable silver gray. When color crept in, jade or turquoise, it was abstracted with the gray to evoke a blurry futurism, with the shimmer of distant stars.
And there's no one who does the navy of a night sky like Armani. Harking back a couple of years to his Tuareg collection, he draped midnight silks and organzas in languid pajamalike configurations that spoke of an ease so seductive it was almost narcotic. He pushed it more and more as the show's eveningwear approached, trapping constellations and starlight in wide pants, draped tunics, floating skirts, and sheer shawls. Clothes for cosmic dreamers, indeed.
And now for the caveat. Armani shows so much in every collection that there are always a few duds drifting by. And, given that the room next door was devoted to Eccentrico, it seemed only right that there should be at least one head-scratcher in his new collection. Those lids! What was he thinking? On the other hand, perhaps they served to throw the rest of this often striking collection into relief.