Giorgio Armani’s Privé show in Paris was formed around the core tenets of classic cocktail dressing. The fashion veteran, who celebrates his 88th birthday this month, presented crystals, velvet, lamé, sequins and statement sparkly earrings. The colour palette shifted from silver and black to pinks and lilac with Armani’s trademark midnight blue dominating.
With over 90 outfits, most of the collection felt familiar, part of the Armani wheelhouse since his heyday in the 1980s. The first four looks featured trousers, something that the designer has made a signature when it comes to after-dark dressing. Tailoring was strong – evening jackets featured in various different silhouettes, from a boxy sequined design to a longline jacquard version with geometric motifs. There were also classic gowns that would no doubt appeal to women with a diary full of black tie events – and a bank balance to fund a new frock. See a strapless black velvet dress with a slash of pink down the bodice or a mid-length dress in midnight blue silk organza, embroidered with tiny crystals.
There were also some moments that were more experimental that felt more modern. Some outfits were made from oversized flounces of fabric resulting in voluminous shapes, while a long skirt with fabric tied around the waist, almost like a jumper, was an interesting addition. Tiny bags – a trend in fashion recently – also featured, as did equally popular see-through resin bags. Dresses with full skirts and soft tulle or silk, and long velvet gowns, felt as if they would be an easy pick for any upcoming award ceremonies.
This is now the natural habitat of Armani Privé – a go-to label for actors’ red carpet appearances. Ruth Negga wore a black custom-made gown to the Tony awards in June, as did Cate Blanchett, an actor long associated with the brand, to the Oscars in February. In fact, the label, which joined the Paris couture schedule in 2005, now has such a reputation that archive pieces are much sought after. For the premier of Thor in June, Tessa Thompson wore a cut-out gown originally on the catwalk in 2011.
Armani, who has seen many governments rise and fall and remained the CEO of his empire, received a standing ovation after this show. Founded in 1975, the label initially focused on workwear, but he has now been dressing stars on the red carpet for over 30 years. In 2019, Vanity Fair called him “the inventor of red carpet power dressing”. Jodie Foster was one of the first notable celebrities to wear his clothes, swapping a questionable prom dress design in 1989 for a chic trouser suit, not unlike the ones in this show, in 1991.