The front row at the Privé show included Sophia Loren, Jodie Foster, and Olivia Wilde, three generations of stars united by their appreciation of Giorgio Armani's ability to, as Foster put it, "capture who I am, be the best I can be." But Armani has reached a stage in his life where he no longer cares about pleasing anyone except himself. So he delivered a collection that will startle longtime admirers and add more fodder to that long-overdue reevaluation.

Inspired, he said, by the gleam of gemstones, Armani produced clothes that came from another planet, the same one that Pierre Cardin and Thierry Mugler might have touched down on once. (It's already been suggested its name could be Gaga.) The first outfit—jacket, skirt, and leggings—shimmered around the model's body like liquid mercury. Her metallic saucer of a hat—one of many made by Philip Treacy for the collection—beamed in signals from above. The ensemble set the tone for the sci-fi extravaganza that followed. "Tron-y, a bit," said Wilde, who should know.

The show never stopped shimmering. By some feat of fabric technology, a mirror effect managed to give organza a reflective quality. Silk was threaded with metal to produce a sheen. Sweeping collars and bodices that looked molded from some hard alien material were actually supple and light. The sci-fi aspect was reinforced by silhouettes curved and carved to rearticulate the body. One striking example (in Armani's signature greige, come to think of it) sliced the dress off at the hips, dropped a few inches, then picked up again in a fall to the floor. But inside those missing few inches was a bright, undulating slash of scarlet. Armani explored something similar in a one-shouldered blue gown, cut out at the side to reveal a sheath of scaly blue sequins. He definitely had the courage of his convictions with this technique, putting a little distance between the skirt and the body over and again. The models looked like they were shedding their dresses, like second skins. But it didn't work so well when Armani used an inverted sculpted volume that recalled Roman couturier Roberto Capucci.

Breastplates of large colored stones were a bold option for evening. An alternative to the UFO headgear was a fencing mask studded with crystals. It was Foster's first-ever fashion show, and she was mesmerized. "Wild, theatrical, futuristic, a theater of the exotic," she called it. But would she wear it? "No, absolutely not," she said with a laugh. And you get the feeling that Armani, happily courting unpredictability, would appreciate such honesty.