Where many brands find themselves whipped up in the maelstrom of trend and hype before quickly being spat out on the rocks of consumer indifference, Giorgio Armani has doggedly stuck to his course for the past four decades – and he’s yet to hit a sand bar.
Globally adored for his slouchy approach to traditional Italian tailoring, the designer stuck to his guns for his Autumn/Winter 2021 offering, which was mounted as a closed show in Milan last week, producing perhaps his most “Armani” (there are only a tiny handful of designers that can be used as a verb) collection yet.
It’s a syrupy symphony of dense velvet dress suits, which could just as readily be worn to sleep in, soft edged separates produced from plush fabrics such as corduroy and silk and a sea of slouchy, deconstructed jackets. We met with Mr A after the show and asked him to select his favourite looks from the collection, just to make pulling together your post-pandemic shopping list a little bit easier.
1. Look Six
“The unstructured jacket is probably what I am best known for and people tend to think of this in terms of designs with lapels and central buttoning that have been softened through deconstruction. However, I have always loved to experiment with the idea of what a jacket can be and here I explore a piece that fastens asymmetrically and has a prominent patch pocket with a buttoning flap in luxurious dark green velvet. So it brings comfort and luxury as well as warmth and protection and is surprising in a way that is typical of Armani.”
2. Look 21
“This look features corduroy, a fabric I love to use, in the trousers. Along with velvet, it’s a key fabric of the collection and one I return to again and again because of its distinctive texture. But the real significance of this outfit is that it shows my love of combining natural and neutral colours, here layered one on top of the other. The combination of garments in this outfit shows how this is a collection designed to be mixed and matched, but that will always work harmoniously because of the palette that unites it.”
3. Look 42
“The waistcoat, here in brown velvet, is a staple of the Armani look. Over the years I have built up a repertoire of easily recognisable forms and this is surely one of them. It is characteristic of Armani that it is here combined with a collarless shirt. The whole look is relaxed. The pleats in the trousers make them comfortable. The subtle patterns on the shirt and jacket don’t detract from the impact of the central piece, the shimmering waistcoat, which because it is made out of velvet catches the light and has depth of colour. The way surfaces are used in this outfit displays an eclecticism – the jacket combines traditional checks with a floral pattern, while the shirt has a painterly stripe.”
4. Look 43
“My jackets are soft and flowing, like shirts, and this is a good example, though being in velvet it has an innate structured look to it. It is also collarless and worn with a white collarless shirt with black trim. The impression is smart, but not remotely stuffy.
“I have always been fascinated by the psychology of dressing and in the back of my mind while I was designing this collection I returned to the famous scene in American Gigolo, for which I designed Richard Gere’s clothes and accessories, in which Julian Kaye, Richard’s character, goes to his wardrobe and starts to lay out and style outfits. My new collection is a man’s wardrobe, just like the one Richard has access to in the film, structured to work together and featuring updated versions of classic Armani pieces that span the decades in their origins.”
5. Look 58
“This outfit shows the ultimate destination of the chromatic path that this collection charts, from the natural hues to deep blues and greens to black. This is decisively black and it is eveningwear. As a dinner suit, this combination of black velvet jacket and trousers says that the wearer is a self-assured, nonchalant man, who can interpret sartorial traditions in his own idiosyncratic way.”
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