"Crazy for Italy," proclaimed the show notes. "Italiana," blared the back-projection. And, when the summer sun is shining on Milan, who could really blame Giorgio Armani for his enthusiastic patriotism? To a soundtrack of appropriately partisan pop, Armani paraded a collection of Italian sportswear that surprisingly elevated quirk over classic. Hence cropped pants with buckled ankles, or trousers that were legging-tight with buttoned calves, which reflected the increasingly devil-may-care confidence of a designer in his please-myself years. In actual fact, such items may well have worked their way into the wardrobes of countrymen in not-so-long-ago Italy (those calf-buttoning pants were like mutated riding breeches), which goes to prove that Armani is always drawing from a deep well of memory when he designs.

His building block remains the jacket, which he toyed with here in a new offering as deconstructed as a shirt. Worn simply with a waistcoat by a number of mannequins over their bare torsos, it backed up the claim of the show notes that the essence of Italy embraces "finely tuned bodies that showcase the physique." The overtness of such a notion, which stood in stark contrast to Armani's years of restraint and discretion, was a further indication of the pleasure he seems to be deriving from his work. Likewise, the obvious sensuousness of slouchy sweaters that unbuttoned all the way down the arm, or the ease of drawstring-waisted trousers with elastic cuffs. And the final group of EA7 activewear, accompanied by lethal-looking roller skates from New Zealand, hinted at what might still be to come.