Emporio Armani F/W 2016
Emporio Armani F/W 2016

Giorgio Armani may be 81, but he still has his fingers on the pulse of those 60 years his junior. While the fashion world searches for the next great young designer to lead us from the current doldrums, it’s the old guy who is actually giving us great designs and keeping his style contemporary. Even more, he’s showing no sign of slowing down. One of the richest people in Italy, Armani still produces eight collections a year (four each for Emporio and his main Armani label). If there’s been any talk of retirement or naming a successor, he’s kept it quiet. Giorgio Armani is still just as vital to fashion now as he ever was.

Start with the very set on which this Emporio collection was shown. Rather than a traditional runway, Armani used a runway lit like a disco floor from the bottom with ultra violet light above. Geometric shapes were the focal point of both the collection and the decoration, giving the whole presentation a sense of modern cohesiveness and a coolness factor that’s difficult to match.

Armani named this collection “New Pop” and the name fits well in the sense that his use of neon-colored geometric shapes against basic black and white foundations certainly provided a strong visual pop to the looks. There was a lot of shiny leather, turned up collars, pixelated jacquards, digital prints, and even furry striped T’s, which looked rather humorous with geometric shapes positioned to resemble a smiling face. Oh, and there was a bowler hat in the mix as well.

As usual, there was a wide mix of both masculine and feminine looks, but while the masculine looks were more frequent, it is the feminine looks, with alternatively shaped jackets and carefully cut curves, that present the stronger silhouettes, in my opinion. His use of pleating, both on dresses and trousers, pulls together a very feminine shape that he then accents with cropped, tailored jackets that are, yes, contemporary, but still glamorous. When he adds sequins to those jackets, one has the ultimate after-5 ensemble that will make everything else wither by comparison.

Not everything quite works as well as one might like. There are some semi-poofy shorts that come off as almost clownish. Fortunately, there are only a few of those and the looks surrounding them are strong enough to more than make up for that one questionable element.

Crushed velvet is definitely strong this season, though, and Armani makes the strongest use of it in a men’s suit and, get ready for this, velvet hoodies. Can one take hoodies out of the hood? Armani is certainly going to try, though I think it would be difficult to claim any suppression by “the system” while wearing one of these. The hoodies are youthful, but definitely not “street” in the most urban sense of the word.

Admittedly, this is a collection designed for those who are either tech geniuses who made millions on a single app idea or trust fund babies still living off their parents’ success. While Emporio is a more youthful oriented label, these clothes still come with a very hefty price tag and the fabrics infer a level of status the majority will never achieve. Still, this is strong design from one of the most storied and famous names in fashion. Giorgio Armani is anything but old-fashioned here. All you young kids will have to scramble to keep up.

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