More Armani than Armani

Armani goes big in Japan

Giorgio Armani chose the Tokyo National Museum to show his cruise collection for the first time on the runway. It was a triumph of beautifully tailored daywear.

Now, let’s not forget. Giorgio Armani marches to the beat of his own drum. When other fashion houses travel to foreign locales to find their collection’s main inspiration, Armani made it clear at a press conference before the show that he had not such intention for his cruise clothes and that Japan was not the basis of the collection. For him these clothes must be purely commercial. Having things his own way, he also added a stellar line-up of soft tailoring in double breasted jackets and long cardigans for men. Armani’s men’s is more sought after than ever as all major stores like Harrods, Selfridges or Barneys are renewing their tailoring focus. None of his big competitors like Christian Dior or Louis Vuitton do this and keep men’s and women’s separate at cruise. On top, Armani will show his main men’s line in only four weeks in Milan. So no wonder he went home in his private jet right after the event was over. There is work to be done in Milan and he did not want to miss his vote in the European elections on May 26th.

Giorgio Armani standing in front of his Armani tower in Ginza.

Giorgio Armani together with Achtung Mode founder Markus Ebner.

Armani is what many designers want to be: Big in Japan. Employing more than 700 people and selling in more than 34 stores in Tokyo alone, Armani made it clear that the main purpose for his visit was to inaugurate his renovated flagship store in Ginza called Armani tower. Asia is by now a bigger business than the United States for the group so no wonder the designer who also sees himself as an entrepreneur picked Tokyo to make a personal appearance and check on the last details before the opening. Multi colored Carrara marble floors in striking hues of green and blue and giant photographs of Armani’s Via Borgonuovo architecture added a fresh look to the Armani codes. Visibly proud of the refreshment, Armani said at the press conference: “You know the Japanese are more Armani than Armani. Starting with the people who do the windows in the store. They see things I don’t even notice and trust me, that means something,” he chuckled.

Yes, indeed it does. This designer is famous for tending to every last little detail in his operation from the press release of a show to the lighting in a store or the color of a button. Armani arrived one week before the show to adjust his jetlag as his days before the show are long ones filled with lots of work. He came to Japan for the first time in 1982 for an award ceremony where his recently deceased designer friend Karl Lagerfeld showed him how to eat with chopsticks, he remembered at the press conference. Without saying it himself, Armani clearly adheres to the same motto as the late Lagerfeld. Keeping busy and working is the best recipe against aging.

Giorgio Armani backstage making last adjustments before the show.

The collection showed masculine tailoring for women and comfortable cardigans for men.

And work he did, as his breezy and light cruise collection proved. It seems that the fashion pendulum is swinging back the Armani way more and more. Nobody does deconstructed, soft tailoring better than him and as the fashion world is slowly but firmly moving away from street wear, Armani’s clothes are not only representative of his very personal design universe but they are also in fashion again. Take the women’s looks with high wasted pants in soft pastels which he paired with suspenders on a double-breasted shirt with color-blocked collar. It was a styling trick but looked cool and might just be a trend. All the masculine tailoring for women’s felt right often with six buttons and double-breasted. We also loved his new ankle-high, two tone, lace up booties on the women. Armani who is famous for the use of the color blue has discovered brown for cruise and many men’s and women’s looks featured multiple hues of it to appealing effect. Standout on men’s was a long double-breasted cardigan which oozed comfort and authority.

Beautifully floating silk and wool on the runway.

In general, there was a new sense of ease on the runway and silk and wools were beautifully draped on bodies and floating. The closing look of a mint green, crystal-embroidered coat dress worn with a round hat was a nice surprise. Armani was clearly so moved by all the attention and respect he has received in his eight days in Japan that he took his bow walking the entire runway and waving to the photographers with both hands up. Armani in top form.

Armani walking the entire runway to take a bow at the end of his show.