Essential was the title that Giorgio Armani gave to his new Emporio collection. Provocative move—it compelled a focus on just what it could possibly be that would make Armani's latest designs impossible for men to live without. The show notes endorsed the "compact opaqueness" of wool as the pure essence of a post-nylon-sportswear world. A color palette that was primarily gray had a solemnity that suited such an austere notion, and there were monkish coats that also fit with the idea, the best of them lined in white to give a flash of purity.

The overwhelming impression of the show was actually softness, scarcely anything new with Armani. The pliability of velvet and chenille jackets and coats was restrained by casual belting. A knit coat over a matching jacket made an interesting take on a male twinset. Another focus was headgear. It made little sense in tandem with the idea of essentials, but it fit quite comfortably with Armani's occasionally wayward yen to please himself. Headscarves, shawls, preacher hats, hoods, and berets were curious addenda to a show that otherwise stayed true to form.