Giorgio Armani established the manifesto of his show with back-projections of the legendarily stylish director Luchino Visconti and poet Gabriele d'Annunzio. Other times, other places, but they've meant the world to Armani throughout his career, and it was easy to see their influence in this new collection (if not in specific details, at least in the general ambience of indulgence and sensuality). Velvet carried over as a favorite fabric—soft, liquid, shimmering, it's an ideal vehicle for Armani's signature (de)construction. Suits in shades of bitter chocolate or midnight-blue velvet were quintessentially glamorous, but Armani also offered mandarin-collared velvet shirts. D'Annunzio would surely have lounged in something similar while he puffed away on his opium pipe.

For those disinclined to such activities, there were more energizing options: a blouson that combined croc and quilted satin, for instance, or a buckled, belted leather jacket that would complement a stylish tough guy like Clive Owen, comfortably ensconced in the front row. The mood of louche luxe didn't discourage Armani from a little proportion play—with diagonally closing jackets and waistcoats, for instance, or with trousers tucked into boots (a jarringly militant moment). But his heart will always be in the dream world he has spun out of his visions of an ideal Italy in the twenties and thirties. And so he closed out his show with his niece Roberta accompanying the bullfighter Cayetano Rivera Ordóñez, star of the designer's campaign for his new made-to-measure service, down the catwalk. Armani understands that we need heroes now.