With the relevance of haute couture gaining traction in the race toward the Academy Awards, Armani Privé revved impressively on the starting line. The dress Ziyi Zhang recently wore at the Golden Globes reminded a generation of young women about Giorgio Armani┐s delightfully uncomplicated, but high-impact appeal. And this collection followed through with a lot more in that line: delicate dresses, pantsuits, stunning jackets, beaded gowns, and beiges of the sort that made women fall in love with him from the year dot.

Armani is at his best when he lays off the hats and bags, i.e., when he┐s not trying to perform to the done-up Parisian standard. A couple of slight halter dresses in nude, oyster, and mushroom with vertical pleats running through the front and falling into narrow chevron-beaded skirts were deliciously light-handed. A sparkling silver sequined blazer and a rigorous black lace bolero with lean, high-waist matador pants came loaded with all the couture-grade handwork a girl could dream of, yet still looked believably modern.

True, you had to turn a blind eye to some sallies in hot pink and coral tiers, as well as a sudden outburst of fussy 3-D geometric pleating, but even those couldn┐t distract from the impact of two brilliantly simple bugle-beaded pajama pantsuits. Vintage Armani, they were a stroke of genius that showed him—in this moment of eighties revivalism—knowingly reprising himself. As a red-carpet alternative for a young starlet, either of those could be the coolest choice out there.