Hollywood's A-list provides a sideshow at the court of Italy's fashion emperor

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The Independent Online

Limousines were glued bumper to bumper along the Via Borgonuovo. Teenagers screamed hysterically. Mothers wept. Fathers held out pens and autograph books in vain.

Lady Helen Taylor was first to arrive. Then came the cast, in order of least famous first, to build the appropriate crescendo. Ashley Judd in black and white stripes and a fedora neatly positioned over one eye. Samuel L Jackson, as cool as they come, in a white cap and checkerboard polo shirt. George Clooney in a dark single-breasted suit. And, rolling up a fashionable hour late, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, in matching beige ensembles.

No need for electricity down in the dark dungeon that serves as the catwalk location for Giorgio Armani's Milan headquarters. The show might as well have been lit by the conveyor belt of neon white teeth.

Why do they do it? Why do they want to sit and grin at a fashion show? Is it the publicity? The money? What? Surely these celebrities – hardly needy of cash or flash-bulb attention – have better things to do than ape around on the front row.

To see these stars out of their Hollywood goldfish bowl and on the turf of fashion is disappointing. Watching Pitt's eyebrows rise at the sight of a pair of pointed leather clogs or Clooney applaud a pair of wide, cropped flared trousers is depressing.

Is Armani so desperate to divert attention away from his clothes? Worst was the sight of Robert De Niro who turned up on the Armani front line last season – a hero on celluloid, reduced to a fashion groupie in the flesh. And now there's Pitt – who most people would probably consider to be cool and above such things – jigging about in his seat with his square-jawed lookalike wife.

You can hardly blame Armani. This is after all the designer who has been tied to film since he dressed Richard Gere in American Gigolo.

The king of Italian fashion is no stranger to kitting out sports stars too. He even persuaded the AC Milan striker Andrij Shevchenko to walk the catwalk this time in a navy pinstripe suit. Armani knows what sells fashion: sex and celebrity, at its lowest common denominator at least.

So, what better than a line-up of sexy celebrities wearing his clothes? Just think of all the free publicity, as they say.

But aren't we a bit bored of this tiresome role call? This inevitable line-up of smirking sychophants? And does anybody care about the clothes anymore?

For those who are interested: it was all about the suit. So, no surprises there, then.

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