The runways of Milan have been full of prints this week, from subtle, almost shadow-like (at Bottega Veneta and Etro) to beyond bold (D&G's foulard fest and Versace's swagger summit among them), but Giorgio Armani somehow managed to cover the range, with a menswear collection that focused on geometric prints that were just eye-catching enough to make the Armani man stand out, but not enough to get him singled out.
That meant a collection of zigzags, checks and stripes ranging from blue microcheck button-front shirts to exploded hound's-tooth trousers. Black chevrons danced down white neckties, ombré sweaters faded from black and gray checkerboards at the chest to dusky blue at the waist, and several different trompe l'oeil woven patterns appeared on sweaters, shirts and jackets.
The boldest of the designs was a brightly contrasting black-and-white horizontal zigzag pattern that covered jackets, shirts and trousers -- but luckily not all on the same model. (Some patterns actually did play well together -- like one look that paired an exploded hound's-tooth check pair of pants with a zigzag shirt in the same white and dusty brown color combination.)
The color palette was grounded in black, white and gray, accented by a grab-bag of blue hues, and a few variations of brown, and the big story, silhouette-wise, were darted trousers that were nipped in at the waist and were cut generously through mid-leg, creating a billowy affect that stopped just the appropriate side of the drop-crotch trou popularized by M.C. Hammer. Jackets felt light and unconstructed -- which is no small feat when a fair number of them had the extra material that comes with a double-breasted jacket.
Espadrilles have been a popular shoe on this season's runway, and Armani offered up his versions as well -- pairing the casual woven rope sole with luxurious material uppers including velvet, crocodile skin and suede, the standout pair being Armani's juxtaposition of a brogue upper to the espadrille sole.
It's hardly a marriage that seems suitable, but as the high priest of menswear Armani has the skill to not only get an "I do" out of such pairings, but to know they'll live happily ever after.
-- Adam Tschorn, reporting from Milan
Photos: Looks from the Giorgio Armani spring / summer 2012 runway collection shown during Milan Fashion Week. Credit: Top and bottom, Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images. Middle. Giuseppe Cacace / AFP / Getty Images.