Giorgio Armani may be the world’s most recognisable designer, but as the 89-year-old wrote in his autobiography, his childhood ambition was to be a physician.
While that particular goal eluded him, at his fashion show in Milan on Sunday afternoon he revisited his lifelong interest in science, citing his inspiration for his new collection as “vibrations”.
“Intended as countless light vibrations creating new colours as well as surface vibrations on clothes,” as he explained to the Guardian, it resulted in his signature louche silhouettes appearing on the catwalk in a series of iridescent silks and undulating 3D layers.
Conceptual as that sounds, Armani’s success in delivering new ways to look at his subtle aesthetic is anything but. His approach has been as consistent in its look as it has been in rising revenues for the last four decades. In a world of brands jostling for column inches and consumer-generated content with a new direction every season, he maintains his modus operandi of making clothes that his client base returns to.
“Coherence is the ability to adapt to the moment in your own personal way: maintaining continuity with what came before,” he explained of his method. This season he said it was about “exploring a quiet softness, which I find perfectly suited to this moment in time”.
As ever, Armani remains resolutely uninterested in verbose statements or clickbait clothes as he approaches the 40th anniversary of his brand next year.
“Creating clothes for people to wear is truly the part that I enjoy more than anything else in fashion,” said Armani, voicing concerns about the direction in which the industry is moving. “What worries me is the proliferation of ever-larger conglomerates and the transformation of fashion into a form of unrestrained or purely visual entertainment, where all that matters is being there and being seen at all costs.”
Fortunately for Armani, there is no shortage of enthusiastic brand ambassadors lining up to be associated with his name. On Sunday, Cate Blanchett, Juliette Binoche and Lily Allen were among the starry attendees at his show.
Continuity has been something of a buzzword and objective at Milan fashion week. The two big debuts of the week – Peter Hawkings at Tom Ford and Sabato de Sarno at Gucci – both presented collections that delivered a new point of view but played to the strengths and previous commercial success of both brands.
In 2022, Armani Group’s revenues reached €2.35bn (£2.05bn), up 16.5% from the year before, once again making a strong case for the continuity and instinct Armani insists on.