Armani returns with simplicity

LAST SEASON, Armani out-Armanied himself to produce a collection of fluent, exquisitely embellished moderation, writes Alison Veness. It was a hard act to follow.

Yesterday in Milan, showing his latest autumn- winter, younger Emporio Armani line, he returned with a more ethnic rhythm. It was all about shapes and textures, with scant superfluous decoration. The current penchant for girlishness, which has sent some designers into a second childhood, here was grown-up and assured. Potency and energy replaced passive baby-doll prettiness.

These were peasant girls, workers, in button- through wool pinafores with servicable, sensible boots - not a sugar-sweet Mary Jane pump in sight. The pinafores became the new Emporio Armani jacket, worn over virtually everything. The silhouette was wide, full and short, a difficult and potentially unflattering shape to handle - especially in these bulky woollens and jerseys. However, Armani's is a light hand and he just managed to carry it off. The verdict: not as breathtakingly beautiful as last time, but harmonious, comfortable and kind of cute.

(Photograph omitted)

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