Last September, Giorgio Armani held a splashy show for his Emporio label at London fashion week. But, as a stalwart of the industry, he knows consistency is part of what makes a megabrand. For January’s men’s shows, the designer was back in his specially constructed theatre at his Milan HQ to showcase the autumn/winter 2018 menswear collection on Monday afternoon.
The show began with blazers – a classic in the Armani school of dressing. The first eight models all wore a variation on the jacket, with the first debuting something new: shoulder robing on the Armani catwalk.
Tailoring, which is what Armani made his name with in the 80s, dominated. There were double-breasted jackets and sharp suits, with the finale consisting of a series of velvet tuxedos. It all formed the wardrobe of a corporate high-flyer. There was an attempt to appeal to no-collar workers too, with soft knitted blazers and trousers that appeared to be a hybrid of an army pant and a jodhpur.
While Armani’s designs sometimes appear out of step with the rest of fashion, his aesthetic – clothes suitable for conservative workplaces – will always have fans. The show notes here explained the collection was for “men who dress carefully, without frivolity”. This is the demographic that Armani has been dressing for over 50 years. The monogrammed doors opened at the end of the show for the 83-year-old’s bow. He appeared suddenly, like the great and powerful Oz, but dressed in navy-blue separates.
Armani the company was restructured last year in an attempt to stop falling sales – down 5% in 2016. Seven different labels under the Armani umbrella were streamlined into three, with Armani Jeans now part of Emporio and Prive, the couture line, part of Giorgio Armani. This new structure reflects what Armani described in a statement as “a general change in purchasing behaviours and attitudes”. As someone who has now been in the fashion industry for five decades, the designer has seen those changes come and go.
Fendi, designed by Silvia Fendi, also showed. With most of the fashion crowd leaving Milan on Monday, the show took them to the airport early. It recreated the baggage claim of the arrivals hall, complete with moving carousels and “Nothing To Declare” exit for models. This being Fendi, it was a first-class take on travel. On the carousel, suitcases were alligator and the monogrammed pram was fur. Models wore long fur coats, layered jackets, retro suits and several bags at once. They were ready for any weather in cagoules – some even had the umbrella hats more usually seen on come-rain-or-shine tourists. Fendi made its name as a fur house, and the controversial material was used liberally here. While that may not be to everyone’s taste, the non-fur pieces were strong. The slogan knitwear, logo bags and checked suits all looked desirable.
The focus now turns to Paris. The men’s shows in the French capital begin on Wednesday.