Giorgio Armani's early acclaim as the Emperor of Greige has lingered unlovingly into the years when navy blue has become his sweet spot. That much was true once again today, with a menswear collection that, from stem to stern, made sweet music with the blues. In between, there was a subtle celebration of color that testified to Armani's extraordinary ability to continually adjust his aesthetic in such a way that there is always a sense of forward movement. Not bad for a man who is exploring the ramifications of his ninth decade on the face of the planet.
If the color was overt in a cherry red counterpoint to the navy, it was more insinuating in pale blush pinks that played against white. Think of it as a graceful dance. There was also a dialogue between black and white in the tweeds and checks and a trompe l'oeil pattern of printed knit. But it was always navy that supplied the foundation. It's the perfect shade to formalize Armani's marriage between sportswear and something dressier. And it loans a coherence to the kind of graphic print that he would once have shied away from. Here, there was a batik-like print on shoes and totes, and a cloudy, coiled design on T-shirts and jackets. They were remarkable for the simple fact that they were in an Armani collection.
But that is the strange kind of power the designer wields. The power to transform banality, perhaps. The most striking element in this collection was a shirt jacket. In the past, Armani built an empire on giving a man's blazer the soft, shruggy ease of a cardigan. Now, it was the
shirt—shorter, tailed—that bequeathed a utilitarian edge to the tailoring. This man knows from smart casual. It is, after all, why he's Giorgio Armani— and you're not.