"It's about the moon," explained Giorgio Armani before his show. "I always need a hook to get into a collection, and that was it—thinking about something romantic and dreamy, far away from our everyday life. Something less harsh." The lunar references, he pointed out, were poured into luminescent fabrics, curviform cutting, embroideries made to look like the craters of the moon, and a crescent-shaped updo for the hair, which, he smiled, "is also a bit of a joke."

It made for a lightened-up Armani Privé show as he cut skirts from overlapping semicircles and worked curves into the peplums of jackets that were fastened with half-moon mother-of-pearl pins. At times there was a slight touch of 2001: A Space Odyssey uniform about it (see the leg-molded flares), and it was surely an intentional moment of humor when Vlada Roslyakova advanced along the runway impersonating the full moon in a giant disc of milky sheer-white organza.

For evening, there were many renderings of sparkling silver beading, pale metallic pinks and greens, synthetic moiré treatments of organza, and paillettes shot with flashes of electric blue—an Armani merging of haute dressmaking and high tech. The serious chic—the looks certain to be most ruthlessly competed for pre-Academy Awards—all came from the dark side of the moon. There were three of them, slivers of black constructed with various asymmetric deployments of white or cream in the back or along the flanks. The result: lengthening, figure-narrowing illusions that will have the A-listers jostling to eclipse the competition at that event, soon as poss.