Conservative to the core in the theatre of Armani

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Some of the grey outfits threatened to blend in with the reinforced concrete of Giorgio Armani's new 12,000 square metre edifice, Armani Teatro. The austere temple, designed by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando, will become Armani's new headquarters and also serve as an exhibition space and theatre in Porto Genova, soon to become Milan's cultural hotbed that will also sonn also include La Scala's Conservatory.

Armani Teatro might also easily double as a film set, should there ever be a remake of the cult sci-fi film, Coma, or as a spiritual centre for all those Armani disciples who might like to pay homage to the king of Italian fashion.

But while Tadao Ando's impressive purist vision pushes the boundaries of modern architecture, the same cannot be said of Armani's fashion vision which is conservative to the core. Armani's clothes are pleasant, not ground-breaking; elegant, not innovative. But who can argue with a formula that has made Armani a household name and the biggest selling designer in the world?

This season, the subtle updates included swishy trousers with scooped hems and a fold-over waistband and jackets cut closer to the torso. The bare body – with fabric sliced away from the back of tuxedo jackets or visible beneath strappy mesh camisoles – provided a fresh and at times risqué new focus for Armani.

While the day clothes were sober in style and uniform-like in colour, Armani let rip with his eveningwear section.

The eveningwear section was a sea of sparkling net – all of it, surprisingly, transparent – sprinkled with jet beads, tiny white pearls or brilliantly coloured embroideries. Models even carried small jaunty purses bearing cats faces with crystal whiskers. But it was the finale of fiery red, beaded gowns that will have Armani loyalists salivating once they hit the stores in January.

At least his fans won't be confronted by anything remotely retro, hippy or folkloric – the themes that have played out on a constant loop at the Milan collections. They won't have to try and decipher how to wear the latest gypsy smock or ruffled peasant skirt. Fickle trends don't enter the Armani lexicon.

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