A giant, globe-traveling retrospective of Giorgio Armani's three-decade-long career finally touches down in Milan this week. And the jackets on his runway today were not unworthy heirs to the many timeless variations in that exhibition. Some curved around the torso in natty tweed, others came with pert peplums. One, cut in gray leather embossed to look like crocodile, blousoned at the waist. These he showed not with his signature pants, but with multiple versions of a slim skirt with a soft drape a few inches above the knee—a look he finished with flats for a youthful, modern feel.

Formal eveningwear, which is so well represented at the La Triennale show, was likewise notably absent here. Armani showed just one gown, embroidered with new Swarovski crystals cut to his specifications—an effect that was glittering if a bit stiff. Cocktail dresses with intricately beaded bodices and softly ballooning skirts in the palest of pastels were effervescent by comparison. They worked well when their harnesslike straps were made from delicate jet crystal. As for red-carpet showstoppers, it seems the designer is saving those for the Oscars this Sunday, not to mention the just announced Armani Privé presentation in Los Angeles at the weekend.