For his main Fall collection, Giorgio Armani followed through on the short lengths and feminine sensibility he explored with his Emporio line. It was a much younger, softer feel that almost—but didn’t quite—cross over into the land of cute. In essence he recut his distinctively supple jackets to hug rib cage and bust and switched his focus from pants to flared skirts that stop five inches or so above the knee. It’s not a complete change of character, though: everything the designer showed for winter was in his beloved black and white.

Though short, Armani’s skirts—often done in stiff black ciré fabric—were a long way from the tarty pelmets that have been strutting other Milanese runways and a more feasible option for his core clientele of grown-up women (if you overlook the patterned sheer tights that opened the show, that is). His use of contrasting textures, meanwhile, turned up several variations on current trends. There were a few strapless black dresses and couture-like coats that put a modern spin on ’50s ladylike styling. And pieces like a black PVC jacket and a simple but decorative beaded tank are the kind of key items that can spark up a winter wardrobe. At a time when women love to cherry-pick across brands instead of acquiring single-label top-to-toe looks, those versatile possibilities alone represent a subtle breakthrough for the house of Armani.