Armani appeals to fans old and new with London fashion week show


Emporio Armani show, in cavernous space in east London, ticks all the boxes with neon jackets and candy-coloured evening dresses

Giorgio Armani with some of the models from the Emporio Armani Spring/Summer 2018 show.
 Giorgio Armani with some of the models from the Emporio Armani Spring/Summer 2018 show. Photograph: Niklas Halle’N/AFP/Getty Images

It is a classic fashion week power move to stage your show somewhere far away from the central London fashion beat.

But if any designer can pull such a move, it’s Armani. The Italian fashion giant staged his Emporio Armani show on Sunday evening way out in Wapping, in a cavernous Tobacco Dock space.

Armani is known for Milan shows on a grand scale. The first London show for 11 years provided a change in location but the core components remained – rows and rows of seats, slick production and champagne on standby for the afterparty. The show started with playful touches, like the pictures of crab on a vest worn with printed pyjama trousers, and other concessions to the youthful market that Emporio Armani aims at.

The eagle branding on the entrance, on plastic handbags and on T-shirts will be appreciated by a logo-happy generation. There were also what can best be described as Armani-isms: nipped-in jackets in neon green worn with wide trousers, ballroom dancing-style evening dresses in a colour palette of bonbons and pinstripe suiting for the male models. This was a collection with lots of different elements – suiting, sportswear, cocktail dresses, office attire. Perhaps that is the result of the need to tick a lot of boxes.

Evening dresses with a colour palette of bonbons
 Evening dresses with a colour palette of bonbons were part of what can best be described as Armani-isms. Photograph: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

Even when aiming at new customers, Armani also has to appeal to a long-established fanbase. Nothing is by chance for this carefully curated, immensely successful brand, with revenues of £2.3bn in 2015.

Emporio Armani – the sportier, slightly cheaper end of the Armani worldview – is key to the business after the brand’s recent restructure, streamlining seven different lines into three. This London show is timed to coincide with the relaunch of the Bond Street store, and a new magazine, of which the 83-year-old Giorgio Armani is editor-in-chief.

Before the show, the designer said, through a translator, that “it was fun to do this show to show I can still be part of today’s world”. Asked if it was his role to steer people’s taste, he answered with a shrug: “To say I educate is a bit pretentious but I can suggest an attitude.”

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