Between the rough Tobacco Dock in London’s industrial East End and the upscale glamour of the city centre’s New Bond Street is a gulf deeper than the Thames.
Even the words ‘Emporio Armani’ projected in red neon lighting on the banks of the river and on the giant Ferris wheel known as the London Eye, could not make a fashion match between upscale and downtown. But Giorgio Armani, visiting London during Fashion Week to celebrate the Emporio show, was eager to take this incursion into the would-be bad lands.
The iconic designer had also worked with the British Fashion Council to launch a design competition for students of BFC colleges to collaborate on his spring/summer 2018 collection. The winners, who had created a bomber jacket, bag and shoes in the Armani spirit, but with a British twist, will find this capsule collection on sale at UK Emporio stores.
In spite of this tilt towards youth and a showing in an about-to-be regenerated area, the clothes looked like clean and colourful sportswear, starting with a white trouser suit that might not be best choice for the scruffy Wapping locale. Naive patterns of animals and objects offered colourful decoration, along with stripes in red, white and blue.
This was a merged men’s and women’s collection, but it leaned towards colourful women’s vacation clothes, based on patterned jackets and plain pants. The sweaters got bigger and heavier but the skirts were light as air. While the women dressed more casually, the men were given more sober dark suits.
Then came pastel and peach colours (for women) mixing azure, grass queen and turquoise with some slightly shadier versions of rosehip and hibiscus.
Lined up at the back of the stage as Armani came to take his bow, the palette was an ode to summer and to prettiness.
But the designer had set himself a problem with the two so-very-different venues. When moved from downtown to uptown, the clothes will seem much more realistic than in the up-and-coming area where millennials, as everywhere across the world, do not draw gender lines between styles or consider specific colours as exclusive to one sex.
In the refurbished Emporio Armani New Bond Street store, shopping for males and females is kept apart – although each in a generous space, with men’s clothing and accessories on the floor coming in from the street and women’s offerings down a large, marble staircase.
The store could not have been more different in character than the show space. But good for Armani to choose to venture into some of the less well known parts of the city.