Armani film stirs battle of fashion giants

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The Independent Online
It's war. An age-old feud that has been gently simmering for the past few years was revived again yesterday by Giorgio Armani who opened his spring/summer 97 show with a short comic film called Salvation.

The film is a rags-to-riches tale of a young woman in Hollywood who makes her living selling magazines from a street kiosk. She's harassed by a series of unsavoury characters, one of whom is a brash, blonde drag queen with more than a passing resemblance to Donatella Versace, sister of Gianni, dressed in black leather bondage bra and gold medallion. "Blondie, blondie!" she yells in an Italian-American accent. "Disco, va bene!"

A white van with a Salvation Armani sign screeches to a halt, and men in white suits run out to give the unfortunate magazine seller an emergency makeover. She is transformed into a tasteful Armani princess in clean navy blue.

The film is a dig at Versace, with whom Armani has so often been compared. In recent seasons Versace, who likes to make dangerously daring dresses held together by safety pins has been paring down his collections while Armani, the beige classicist, has been injecting a bit more colour and pizazz to his. They are the two giants of Italian fashion but recently Gucci and Prada have stolen the limelight. On a visit to New York recently, Armani declared that fashion is dead. Armani likes to focus instead on perfect taste and style.

In Milan, some things do not change every season at fashion's whim. At Missoni yesterday, its luxury knitwear proved that it has resurrected itself from the dull and frosty. A quarter of the audience was wearing pieces of the label.