Armani F/W 2016
Armani F/W 2016

We end our coverage of Milan Fashion week, as always, with Giorgio Armani’s main collection. We know to expect suits and with a collection given the title “Black Velvet,” we start out already having a basic idea of both color and texture. So, is there anything in here that is actually going to surprise us?

Surprise might be too strong a word, but certainly the collection is pleasing. Armani gives us not one, but five new suit silhouettes this season. Yes, there is plenty of velvet, which has been the trending fabric this month, and, of course, most of it is black. This is, after all, the fall/winter collection, so we expect a sense of formality that is heavy with blacks and greys and those colors account for the greater portion of the collection. There is sufficient color here, though, with prints that are lively and contemporary, giving some life to what might otherwise be just another Armani set.

Okay, so maybe that first men’s suit in velvet looks a bit too sporty for my personal taste. The ribbed cuffs and the oversize pockets countered any sense of tailoring. I did find the buttoned Nehru collar on the shirt interesting, though. I had several of those back in the 80s.

Fortunately, Armani uses pink tweed to counter all that black in the first set of looks. The jackets and belted boleros get this collection off to a strong start with something one probably doesn’t already have in their closet. Such is perhaps Armani’s biggest challenge: showing us something that is significantly different from what we already have. So when we see a tasseled cape and a fringed dress, all done in black velvet, of course, we’re going to pay attention.

Jump down several looks and let’s get to the soft floral and watercolor prints. These really stand out from the blacks and greys, but the pastel tone keeps them from being too much for one’s eyes. These are still beautiful winter pieces and a full cashmere two-piece is probably going to be on the must-have list for a lot of women. The watercolor print at the top of dress coats also makes a nice feminine statement for the cold weather.

I’m not as huge a fan of the three blanket coats that were presented together. Again, we look to Armani for luxury and precise tailoring and those particular coats look more like one grabbed a throw off the couch before heading out the door. With a collection so tightly built on fine tailoring, I was rather disappointed to see such a regressive look in the set.

This is, as always, an absolutely huge collection, over 80 pieces total, and as he gets toward the evening wear in the last 20 or so looks, we get a good sense of what we’re likely to see on next year’s red carpets. Here, the capes are what shine, whether done in velvet or in tulle, as we see in the final look. One can dream of having a reason to wear any of these dresses, or having the budget to afford them.

One rather quirky element to the set is the bow tie that shows up fairly often. A bit oversized, it provides a strong visual contrast to the more tailored look of the suits and is almost a bit whimsical, as though it were conceived by Disney and refined by Armani.

This was a pleasant and luxurious way of ending Milan Fashion Week. While we’ve still not seen any dramatic shifts from previous seasons, at least Armani shakes up his own look a bit and gives one a decent reason to go shopping. Given the current state of fashion, that is about all we can ask of any designer.

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