Giorgio Armani's very sophisticated, very elegant, moon-inspired Spring 2010 Haute Couture collection.
In a slightly odd season for Haute Couture (what with the sad absence of Christian Lacroix from the schedule, the quite experimental collections from Valentino and Givenchy, and the fact that someone very influential – Suzy Menkes – finally told John Galliano that everyone’s bored with the constant nostalgia/period costume style of recent Dior Haute Couture), the one collection which was really my favourite was Armani Privé.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Armani, not least because my interest in fashion really began thanks to the absolutely incredible Armani retrospective exhibition* at the Royal Academy in 2003 which I saw, and my first forays into wearing ‘fashion’ came thanks to the oft-visited Armani Junior corner on the fourth floor of Harrods (!). As well as being an incredibly skilled designer and a total perfectionist, Armani is also a very sharp businessman, having developed a huge empire that covers everything from ready-to-wear to Armani Dolci chocolates to hotels, and he has made himself a great fortune in the process. The flip side of this, of course, is that for a lot of people the name ‘Armani’ doesn’t really connect with high fashion any more, and doesn’t even seem very relevant these days, not least because Armani doesn’t do ‘directional’ ready-to-wear collections (of the sort which magazine editorials tend to feature), and our thoughts are slightly dominated by the myriad offshoot brands (Emporio Armani, Armani Jeans, Armani Exchange…), and of course by the slightly crass advertising images of soccer stars in Armani underwear.
Still, it drives me mad when people say ‘what’s Armani doing showing couture, he’s such a commercial designer,’ because commercial side or not, Armani really is a very talented couture designer, constantly bringing modern twists to his ever classic, ever flattering, ever elegant aesthetic. Call me old fashioned or dull, but I’d much rather see this sort of Haute Couture collection, where old fashioned glamour and elegance are key, than the more experimental collections that Givenchy and Valentino showed. There is always a sort of classical modernity with Armani, though, which is what sets the collection apart from John Galliano’s camp romp through the Dior archives.**
* I must do a post with some scans from the book from that exhibition at some point. Sadly the book’s in London but I’m currently
** I don’t really mean to criticise the other Haute Couture collections (indeed, considering the huge amount of effort that goes into them, making unqualified criticisms from behind a computer screen just seems wrong)… I still appreciate the technical brilliance, it’s just the aesthetic concepts of some appeal to me more than others.