Giorgio Armani's shows are usually accompanied by a page of text to clarify—or sometimes confuse—what we've just seen. Today, there was a single word: echoes. Time is once again the major player in the Armani drama—the company turns 40 next year, and the designer himself is only a few weeks shy of his 80th birthday. The past echoes; the future beckons. Somewhere in the middle, this collection took shape.
It was purest Armani, from the soft, belted coats that opened the show to the dark suits with checked shirts at the end—a low-key finale that was much more reflective of the reality of men's lives than a passage of evening looks. Realness is the most resounding echo of all. It's been ringing out all over Milan this week, so it was appropriate that Armani, who made a real new man, should put his own full stop on the calendar. The cardigans with their narrow lapels; the deep-pleated, cuffed pants; the double-breasted jackets with their soft but strong shoulders—everything subtly, smokily shaded. They were clothes for the quotidian. But those looming anniversaries provided an opportunity to reflect on how the everyday has changed since Armani started his business back in 1975. He was always the master of sublimation, but the male sensuality that he once implied to such effect has become explicitly shirtless, six-pack physical, and that's the way even he shows it now.
But there was still the sublimation, visible here in the easiness of a jersey-backed leather jacket, and a suede jacket and pants worn with the casual attitude of a tracksuit, and the fabrics washed till they hugged the body. A white cotton jacket lined in navy was as summery as anything else you could want next year. You could practically swim in it. Why not? Everything echoes better underwater. And time stands still.