Emporio Armani aspires to subtle, transparent grace

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

MILAN (AP) — Light and transparent fabrics — from organza to lace to netting — dominated the shows Friday at Milan Fashion Week.

Milan womenswear designers experimented with all manner of sheer fabrics, creating decidedly feminine looks for next spring and summer that new materials gave a contemporary modern flair. Here are some highlights from Friday's shows:



Giorgio Armani gave the crowd an opening and closing wink during his Emporio Armani show, with a pink cropped T-shirt featuring a graphic emoticon smiley face with an "x'' for one eye.

Perhaps it was his way of signaling a shift to the fashion crowd.

The designer said in his notes he was done with the "classic interplay of masculine and feminine" and that the collection was moving toward "a subtle yet determined form of grace." A lofty ambition, even for the pillar of Milan fashion, who is celebrating 40 years in the business.

There was a lot new on the runway of his line for youthful dressers. The looks were pretty, feminine and light, evoking movement, thanks both to the textiles, featuring sheer organza, a Milan favorite this season, as well as the easy silhouette.

Tops, jackets and skirts were asymmetrically cut, projecting a sense of being on the go, while the new trouser fastened at the calf or ankle with leather straps, cinching up in the shorter version. He also amply deployed pleats and contrasted volumes in the silhouettes: for example, cigarette trousers with a boyfriend-cut duster coat.

The colors were mostly natural pastels — Armani favored a trinity of pink, blue and cinnamon — anchored by urban gray.

Parsimonious with accents, those he did add were inspired by the nature: flower, petal and stem appliques. Many looks were finished with a scarf knotted at the neck.

Armani paired the looks mostly with flats, from transparent ballerinas to open-toe boots.



Giambattista Valli says his Giamba line's looks for next spring and summer are "post-pop."

The Giamba girl is both innocent and daring, caught between two worlds. She wears sheer white baby doll dresses over flashy red-white-and-blue sequined panties, chooses between floral appliques and lipstick prints, and wears sturdy black boots or pumps with zebra-striped ankle socks.

"This is an intimate party of girls who have done everything together. No boys," Giamba said, adding that his inspirations were the party scenes of the 1970s and '90s.

The clothes projected energy, from the red-white-and-blue sequined mini with upward pointing lace to the neckline, Alice in Wonderland style, to mod gowns with '70s pop art prints or tiered granny-style with dainty built-in capes. But even there, on the cusp of innocence, the lacey bodice is transparent, leaving Valli to strategically place stars and hearts to conceal nipples.

Valli, who shows his couture line in Paris and launched his youth-charged second line last year in Milan, sees himself as "one of the designers with the most complicity for women, whatever the age."