For his Spring Privé collection, Giorgio Armani drew a supple, body-conscious line that took him into a new zone of all-out femininity. Concentrating on a neat torso drawn from his classic tailoring, he melded jackets to the rib cage and molded them to the shoulder, then balanced them over belled skirts sliced into geometric volumes at the hem. His real aim was to break away from the severity of suiting. With its plethora of handcrafted effects—from micro pleating to bold, broken-circle embroideries of plastic, crystal, and metallics—the collection read as an essay in pushing his own boundaries.

For cocktail through evening, he explored draping, chiffon, and frothy fan pleating with some pretty results (the best in subtle color washes of gray or pale yellow). He also took the opportunity to showcase the development of his luxe Privé accessories: giant cuffs, heart-shaped necklaces, chokers with beads and hand motifs, and crocodile clutches fastened with semiprecious cabochon stones. His long gowns—usually destined for the Academy Awards' red carpet (though who knows, this year?)—were as authoritative as always, this time gently tiered and graceful in movement. As a finale, though, he gave away the honors to someone else: A multilayered orange-red organza gown was a tribute to Valentino, his great Italian compatriot in couture, who finally retires this season.