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Armani Sets the Mood in Milan Fashion Week

March 12, 1986

MILAN, Italy (AP) _ Just like the alphabet, the Milan fashion glossary begins with the letter A - for Armani, the undisputed leader in Italian ready-to-wear fashion trends.

In fact Giorgio Armani is largely responsible for the whole fashion mood created around the Milan collections, which have made them a favorite stop on the hectic annual fashion route.

Courtesy, efficiency and a lot of good taste surround everything Armani does from clothes to sit-down dinners for 405, as happened Tuesday night after the presentation of his new fall and winter collection for 1986-87.

″Just coming here makes you feel so good, you love the clothes even before you see them,″ said Joan Weinstein, who owns Ultimo of Chicago, as she sat in Armani’s ultra-modern palace theater in Milan, waiting for the show to begin.

The show, with its beautiful models, soft background music and, of course, gorgeous clothes, was followed by a five-course dinner served under a tent erected in the courtyard. Italian actresses Claudia Cardinale and Ornella Outi were among the guests.

The guests were seated at four long tables covered in white linen and decorated with silver candelabras and white floral arrangements, creating a wedding banquet effect.

Avocado salad, boiled salmon, fresh asparagus and cognac ice cream were washed down with an all-Italian array of sparkling red and white wines.

″I was more worried about the dinner than the show,″ quipped a relieved Armani as he was thanked by one guest.

But Armani rarely has to worry about a show. His trademark of casual elegance has become such a household fashion word that, as one U.S. buyer said, ″I could buy an Armani collection blindfolded.″

For the fall-winter collection, Armani dresses his women in loose comfortable clothes whose elegance derives from their simplicity.

The jacket, staple of any Armani collection, comes next fall in three varieties: short and fitted, cardigan style or oversized like a man’s jacket.

Some have man-tailored lapels, while others are collarless. Novelty details next winter include the oversized cuff with single button, a back pleat marked by two buttons, and the Northumberland belt buttoned at the side instead of the front.

There is good news for sloppy dressers, too. Armani knitted many of his sweaters longer than his jackets, making the slovenly look fashionable.

While most of the Italian designers seen on the Milan runway this week opted for shorter lengths, Armani, who likes to be a step ahead of everybody else, preferred the midi- and sometimes even maxi-length.

To go with this elongated silhouette, he designed a series of soft and fuzzy wool polo coats, almost big enough for two.

The new Armani dress is so simple it is almost austere. Long-sleeved and midi-length with jewel collar and tapered waist, often in gray or beige, it is remininscent of an apronless pilgrim’s frock. To match this severity, Armani primly pinned up his models’ hair.

The same dress reappears at night, in stern black velvet worn with flat shoes and no jewelry.

For a more sparkling nightlife, Armani dresses his winter woman in rich Chinese floral-printed silk pajamas, or wide crinolined crepe skirts brightened by a myriad of sequins that twinkle through a thin layer of black tulle. The skirts are worn with black silk pullovers adorned with antique gold necklaces.

The tireless Armani has no vacation plans for the moment. As soon as he finishes with the hoards of buyers waiting with checkbook in hand to snap up his latest creations, he will devote his time to what he calls his ″pet baby,″ the Armani Emporio line, a less expensive label for the younger set.

In fact, next month he will open the largest ″Emporio″ store in the world in his hometown Milan, where his good fashion fortune began.

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