Maestro of exquisite minimalism

BEIGE, TAUPE, chocolate; waterfall lapels of the softest suede; layer upon layer of sheer chiffon and sequined fabric costing at least pounds 400 a yard. The collection? Giorgio Armani. The clothes? As good as ever - grown up, superbly cut, fluid and flattering.

Whatever the rest of Milan does, whatever bizarre direction fashion decides to take, Giorgio Armani, in his eponymous main line as opposed to Emporio Armani, sticks to what he loves.

Lee Radzwill and Sophia Loren, both at the show on Wednesday night, seemed to appreciate the fact that some things in fashion do not change, or, if they do, it is imperceptible to all but aficionados. If you want an understated trouser suit or an evening dress which will get you - but never your bare bosom or bottom - noticed, Armani has long been able, at a price, to provide.

Of course, Wednesday night's collection was different from Armani's past offerings - if it had not been, the minimalist maestro of Milan could just have sent out a press release reading 'Beige and beautiful' and his customers would keep buying. There was a looser weave to jackets so that they looked like they had been cut from impossibly soft hessian, and trousers everywhere - under fit-and-flare day dresses and incorporated, surprisingly successfully, into floating, fluted evening wear.

Armani doesn't do heavy themes. He doesn't write postcards in clothes from his last holiday destination - as others do. There was a slight nod to north India, but it was done with a touch as light as the fabrics. The collection was quiet, elegant, exquisite, just as expected.

(Photographs omitted)