Classic Armani steals show

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THE ALL-powerful Giorgio Armani showed his main line collection and the jewel in his crown in Milan yesterday. Italy's king of minimalism and the man who dressed the Eighties continues to stick to what he does best - design classically. And he is wise to do so. This year, for the second time running, his is the most profitable company in all of Italy. Only a fool would argue with that.

Neither does Armani seem to bother with passing trends. It is arguably just this more classic - and often more kind - view of what women, and men, want to wear that made him so successful in the first place.

Earlier this week, for his Emporio line, Armani stuck to neutrals once again - not the sludgy hues that have dominated other collections so far, but rather less noxious shades. For his main line show, Armani, unlike other designers, rarely bothers with big-name models or with a spectacular setting. Instead,the audience is expected to concentrate on the clothes which are shown in his understated, if grand showroom. For daywear, easy tailoring - and trouser suits in particular - are the order of the day. These are soft-shouldered and fluid - the easiest thing in the world to wear. For evening wear, there were acres of ink-black velvet, as well as signature beaded gowns, camisoles and skirts: long, not so long, narrow or full. There are few designers in the world who rival him where these are concerned. Hopeful Oscar nominees are doubtless joining the star- spangled queue already.