Giorgio Armani

There are always distractions at a Giorgio Armani show and last night’s Privé collection was no exception.

The double-whammy of Uma Thurman and Hilary Swank perched on the front row – Uma in a simple black silk shirt, ski pants and green open-toed sandals, Hilary in a demure sparkling little black dress and pointy satin pumps – provided quite an eye full until the lights went up.

But what was this? Mr Armani showed his Privé collection – the name he gives his couture line – on a pink zigzag runway that lit up like a dance floor. Was the designer in disco mode? No, but he was about to unleash turbo-charged Armani – multiple colours and power prints.

Elegance and sophistication are the Armani bywords. And with his controlled balance of masculine and feminine silhouettes – such as full floaty silk organza dresses worn over stovepipe sharp silk jacquard trousers – this collection could not have been a more precise articulation of Armani World, but with an energy boost.

Every model – and he never uses supermodels – wore a hat, a kind of Fez, that gave the collection a Near-Eastern flavour. A clue that this might be Armani’s next territory to conquer? He called the collection ‘Ethnic Echoes’ and in his show notes described the fabrics as telling the story of an encounter between East and West, ‘as in a traveller’s tale’.

So Italian fabrics inspired by diverse ethnicities were the focal point: bold striped chevrons ran down the narrow silk Mikado trouser suits, multiplied over backless ball gowns and appeared in ruby Swarovski crystals on the final strapless long evening dress. Another sign of ‘tribal luxury’ came in the form of waistcoats – made from miniscule strips of twine-like fabric, precious and bejewelled for evening. Densely tattooed dresses also had ‘ethnic allure’.

As for the accessories – a ‘sceptre’, which looked like a scroll of fabric, appeared on everything, as a necklace, shoulder ornament or, to dramatic effect, as part of the neckline of a dress. The bags, tightly woven, featured long fringes that, as Armani put it, ‘suggest the murmer of the wind’.