In a season when the suit reigns supreme in Milan, lending an unusual degree of coherence to the Fall collections here, you might imagine that Giorgio Armani, the man whose take on tailoring revolutionized menswear, would be in his element. And yes, in a sense he was, but as a lone wolf rather than a consensus leader. If his show notes talked about a sense of tradition and a reinterpretation of classics, the means to his end was exaggeration. An exploded herringbone and a wide-ribbed corduroy, for instance, or a suit whose shortened jacket had a cardigan-soft shoulder and whose trouser had four fulsome pleats and a severely tapered ankle. The average businessman isn't going to look at that silhouette and think "boardroom."

But that isn't really Armani's shtick any longer. He has evolved his own sui generis version of formality. It's actually anything but formal in its soft-touch sensuality and intriguing fantasy elements. These are partly about luxury—black alligator, glazed leather, inky quilted velvets—but equally, they are about jackets and pants that define the body with something akin to the almost feminine cling of jersey. There is, in fact, something transgressive about emblematic male items taken to such an extreme. You kind of wonder if Armani was feeling the same way when he crowded his catwalk with swarthy, beret-wearing guys in identical brown velvet jackets and corduroy pants. They looked like a resistance movement. And what might they be resisting? Given Armani's previous declarations, it would probably be the lean teen aesthetic that continues to dominate menswear catwalks.