There was a box of chocolates on every seat in the house, and that made a suitable introduction to Fancy Girl, the muse for Giorgio Armani's latest Emporio show. She was most certainly all that and more, in her shiny jacket and leggy tube skirt. This last item, in stretch tulle, was the show's foundation stone. Everything else—the tiered voiles, the little flared skirt with the center zip, the one-shouldered trapeze cocktail dress—sat over it. It was a typical Armani move, to take one item and play it out through the entire collection. In the past, he's attached himself to a particular hat or a pair of pants, among other polarizing flourishes, with all the attendant risks. What if it doesn't work? It's inevitably a win-some-lose-some situation, and that's exactly what happened this time.

Where it worked best was with what could be construed as daywear, like the opening jackets, cutaway with a slight sheen. They were made from something called rubberized raffia, which was instantly a valuable reminder that Armani's fabrics are always much more than they seem. Seconds later, we were confronted with jackets and shorts covered with what looked like big, square paillettes. "Thermo-welded leather tiles" is what they actually were.

The shorts were the show's key alternative to the tulle tubes, but eventually even they seemed to surrender to a kind of ruffled nebulousness, which is where the lose-some moment kicked in. Toward the end of a presentation that covered a head-spinning number of bases, there were several indistinctly layered or hard-edged outfits that were probably the wrong kind of fancy for Armani's girl.