Inspired by the traditional indigo robes of the nomadic Tuareg people of Saharan North Africa, the collection explored the power of nuance through a single color -- blue -- albeit in a dozen different shades.
The result was a reminder of what makes Armani such a giant. It was everything that women expect from him and more -- restraint, elegance and discipline -- an uncomplicated but uncompromisingly luxurious approach to dressing rooted in meticulous details.
He did nod to the season's longer lengths. Fitted, ankle-skimming skirts and tapered trousers were the foundations for the layered look. On top, the focus was on magnificent jackets. One came cropped and fitted, woven from glossy satin strips; another was a snug bandleader style with covered buttons; and a third, fitted through the waist, came in a matte silk.
Pants were just as interesting -- simply pleated and tapered; subtly draped at the top like jodhpurs, or transparent. Organza leggings, perhaps?
There was also a playfulness in the way Armani put things together on the runway -- a tunic top hanging below a cropped jacket over slim pants, for example, and a matte-colored miniskirt worn with a twist-front, sheer sleeveless top and the aforementioned organza leggings.
Gowns were also smashing because they didn't try too hard; they were classically beautiful forever pieces. One had rippling blue satin waves across the bodice, while another was sculpted into a calla lily-like flourish at one shoulder.
When the last models came out -- a man and a woman playing the parts of nomads, with images of rippling sand dunes projected behind them -- it was clear to everyone that this season, Armani had gone the distance.
--Booth Moore in Milan
Photos: Looks from the Giorgio Armani spring-summer 2011 runway collection shown during Milan Fashion Week. Credit: Jonas Gustavsson & Peter Stigter