The velvet revival is officially in full force for Fall/Winter 2016, after Giorgio Armani decided to dedicate his entire show to “Black Velvet” in dozens of beautiful iterations. There was so much dense velvet fabric on the runway that it could have made for a somber collection, but Armani’s tailoring was too precise, as he spliced in transparent fabrics and laser-cut the plush material until his looks were lightweight. Black velvet has never been more buoyant than when rendered by Armani’s skillful artisans.
If some of Armani’s designs looked mature, that’s because his clientele usually is, but lately he’s been working in youthful ideas. A shaggy oversized cardigan might be snapped up by a lady who lunches, but she’d never wear it unbuttoned to the throat with nothing underneath. She also wouldn’t want those black velvet sweat pants, or dangle a keychain from a loop on a tailored suede jacket, but a young, fierce girl-about-town certainly would. His suits were equally youthful and tomboyish, and came in fitted herringbone tweeds topped with lacquered black “bow tie” chokers with velvet tie attachments. They instantly recalled the dandy suits preferred by singer Janelle Monae.
Speaking of suits, the boys were also represented on the runway, as several styles walked two or three abreast, with one female model and the others male. Their looks complimented each other as sets, which was unusual given that most male models only appear during womenswear shows or in editorials as human accessories. Armani’s menswear is the stuff of legend after all – Karl Lagerfeld used to wear an Armani suit practically everyday and Leonardo DiCaprio just won his first Oscar in a classic Armani look.
Black velvet has never been more buoyant than when rendered by Armani’s skillful artisans.
Velvet textures, suiting, and youthful styles were not the only elements present in the Giorgio Armani show, as the designer took every opportunity possible to flaunt the specialized talent of his ateliers by showing a variety of crafty looks. They included melting florals on fuzzy mohair sweaters, raffia woven velvet jackets with fringe, glossy leathers etched with vertical zig-zag patterns, and more. They added tactile range to velvet’s soft surfaces, and amplified the craftsmanship of the collection.
For evening, there was plenty of dark, sultry drama to be found on multi-colored embroidered dresses with patterns that assembled to make a kind of floral mosaic with the number 21 repeated across the surface. This motif was also reimagined as printed discs which amassed on a velvet trimmed jacket. Velvet cut-outs were also layered with lace, creating beautiful patterns across the top of a sleeveless gown, while other evening looks were fitted with glittering vertical strips or embroidered with 3D floral appliqués. As the rest of the fashion world has embraced a range of color and psychedelic pattern mixing this season, Armani found a serene category to stamp his individual mark on that defied the rest of Fashion Week trends.