If the fashion industry sometimes seems obsessed with creating the next sell-out trend, then the men’s autumn collection by Giorgio Armani served a poignant reminder this season that you do not always need to chase the purse strings of generation Z.
Armani, the world’s most successful fashion designer and proprietor of one of its few independent fashion brands, does not do shock tactics and trends. While his contemporaries roll out logo-heavy bags and zeitgeisty moments, the 88-year-old has always been consistent in his polished offering of 1% chic for the best part of five decades. Ironic, then, that it is this very signature that makes him something of “a mood” this season.
You only had to look at the front row of all the big menswear shows in Milan this weekend to see a male lead from the smash-hit second season of The White Lotus. Theo James, AKA Cameron Sullivan, was on the front row at Armani, while Will Sharpe, who plays Ethan, sat on the front row at Emporio Armani over the weekend. On Sunday, Adam DiMarco (Albie) was a surprise guest at Prada. Arriving hot on the heels of Succession, and the film Triangle of Sadness, the cult success of Mike White’s black comedy-drama proves the popularity of TV shows that, for better or worse, turn the spotlight on the wardrobes of the ultra-rich.
Armani’s autumn/winter 2023 collection was not only inspired by the atriums found in Milan’s noble palazzos, but would fit right in. Cashmere and alpaca tailoring was met with silk cargo trousers, while velvet popped up on everything from bomber jackets to trainers. There was skiwear and glitzy eveningwear, ensuring all A-list pastimes are a well-dressed event. In other words, archetypal Armani.
It was a part of a wider vibe shift this season at the Milan menswear shows where designers eschewed the “Insta moment” for focusing on what they have historically done well. At Dolce & Gabbana, the design duo legendary for delivering superlative extravagance said they were tired of distractions and presented sharp suits fresh from the sartoria. At Etro, the creative director, Marco De Vincenzo, paid tribute to its textile heritage with a texture-fest of a show. Even Miuccia Prada, which usually challenges fashion into a new intellectual realm, talked about going back to the “fundamentals of fashion”.
For Armani, loyalty to long-term brand codes is a lucrative business. The latest figures from his empire showed that total revenues from branded products worldwide in 2021 amounted to €4.05bn (£3.59bn). If it isn’t broke, then there’s no need to fix it.