The Runway vs. Real Life

Earlier today I was reviewing some runway shots from the Armani SS13 Privé collection and it struck me that this is the second time I have seen runway models making Giorgio Armani collections look a bit frumpy. Take a look at the faces of the models in the Paris haute couture show earlier this year to see what I mean (thanks to Vogue Italia for the pictures).

Now I freely admit that not all Giorgio Armani clothing looks great – maybe that is unexpected from someone like me, but even I don’t like every single thing I see on the racks or in the collections, especially some of the more patterned and obvious clothing. But some of those Privé dresses are stunning; just block out the faces of the models and see what I mean.

I noticed this also in the January FW 2013/14 Men’s show photos. And in that case it struck me that the models are too young to be wearing those clothes. The black label Giorgio Armani lines are designed for buyers in the 35-55 range, and yet the models all seem to be about 18-25 – callow youths, to borrow a phrase. I would prefer to see some of those looks, like the one below, being worn by a more solid, mid-30’s model – and I own that jacket, by the way, or maybe one very like it.

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Now in that men’s collection Armani went very sporty, with tightly tailored pants and all kinds of interesting fabrics, textures and closures. But does that mean only the younger models can wear those styles? No. I don’t think some of the younger models can wear these clothes and move in a way that makes them come alive. They don’t have the physical and emotional presence to catapault those outfits into the real world. They look good, but not great.

In contrast, I saw some amazing women’s outfits in the February FW 2013/14 Women’s RTW collection, and in the SS13 RTW line , and in both those cases the models and clothes worked – the styling and line of the models blended with the nature and texture of the clothes. Look back at older shots of Armani models from the 1980’s – again they worked brilliantly, stunningly well.

My – perhaps obvious – view is that there needs to be a marriage of the clothes and the selection and styling of models wearing them, to give the garments the chance to glow and sparkle. I can imagine it is not always easy to get all the elements just right, even if you are a highly detail-oriented designer like Giorgio Armani.

But when it is right, and you see how these clothes were meant to work, they just explode off the page, and you want to have them in the real world, where they can, hopefully, work that incredible, subtle magic on your tired, lumpy, old, broken frame…

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Eccentrica on the Secret 9F of Armani Ginza

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By a streak of luck I not only found a nice pair of pants (that I noted, for purchase later this month while in Milan for some Xmas sales shopping at Giorgio Armani HQ), but also happened to be at Giorgio Armani as a special show called Eccentrica was going on on the secret 9th floor of the Ginza megastore building. The exhibit, on it’s last day of a short run, features quite a range of Privé gowns with a very Japanese bent, as well as some quite startling bits of personal decor, like this glass flower arrangement. I don’t think I will ever be a haute couture customer.

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A New Robusto Briefcase from Louis Vuitton

The past week has been one of my biggest splurges yet, with several trips to Giorgio Armani and Prada. And the week culminated with the purchase of a new Robusto II briefcase at Louis Vuitton, value US$3,300.

Vuitton? Me? Have I lost my mind? What happened to the Giorgio Armani project? Fear not, gentle reader. My goals remain Giorgio Armani pure, and I will give a broad update on where that project is after the first six months in further posts next week.

With hand on heart I can say that I did not intend to shop at Louis Vuitton. But I have recently been searching for a new business briefcase, and I was looking for something that would see me through the rest of my career – another 10-20 years – and something that offered the same principles I am building through my Giorgio Armani wardrobe: elegant, stylish, timeless, with modern yet noticeably classic design.

And as I walked along Maximilianstrasse in Munich, one particular case in the window of Louis Vuitton kept catching my eye: a beautiful, simple, elegant case that seemed just right. This bag turned out to be the bigger Robusto III (three sleeves), but I was quickly informed of the Robusto I and II, and the II was simply gorgeous.

Even after careful inspection, and realization that I was unlikely to find a better case, I was still highly skeptical of purchasing from this brand. All the logos at Vuitton were a bit off-putting, not to mention the thronging, somewhat grabby customers – what looked like a mix of the offspring of Arab oil magnates, Russian oligarchs and 6’2″ Bayern Munich footballers. I returned 3 times to look again and again, never quite commiting.

But I honestly could not imagine a better quality briefcase, and after 48 hours reflection I am now the owner of a Robusto II Taiga (dark grey) in textured cow leather. It is possibly the most discreetly logo’d item in the entire Louis Vuitton range – if you are not looking for the logo you will not notice it, which for Vuitton is really saying something.

Quite funnily, as I arrived for the purchase, I was carrying bags from both Giorgio Armani and Prada (more on these trips in other reports), and the assistant – a charming young man – was most surprised that I was not noted on the customer list. This oversight was quickly corrected, and I was warmly welcomed into the marketing database of another luxury brand.

Taking the underground train home carrying a heavily-laden Louis Vuitton bag made me realize the power of this brand. I have never seen so many people looking at me in my life…