Relaxed Giorgio Armani ends Milan Fashion Week after Covid constraints

Milan Men’s Fashion Week wraps up Tuesday, following Giorgio Armani’s first live runway show since coronavirus that opened the door to a return to normality for the industry.

“Back where it all began” was the name chosen by Armani, 86, for his latest men’s collection shown late Monday before a live audience.

It was a fitting description for the industry hoping to see the end of a punishing period of dismal sales and audience-free shows caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.

Combining fluidity of movement with extreme elegance, the Men’s Spring/Summer 2022 collection was presented in the courtyard of Armani’s Milan headquarters near the city’s fashion district, with models — both with and without masks — making their way down a runway in front of the well-manicured lawn.

Bold floral graphics in black and white adorned light knitwear or pants, blouson jackets were relaxed and roomy, while Bermuda shorts — some in tribal indigo blue, grey and red prints — were paired with vests or jackets.

“My new collection reflects my state of mind after the pandemic. It is very classic in a sense, but also informal and relaxed,” Armani told journalists after the show.

“And of course, I wanted the collection to bear my trademark, a certain effortless elegance,” he added.

The Italian luxury house was the first to announce the return of live audiences in May this year, after being the first to renounce them in February 2020, at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.

Fashion experts have described the live shows as an important sign of recovery for the Italian fashion industry, where revenue fell by 26 percent last year. Pre-pandemic sales levels are only expected to be regained in 2022.

– Prada at the beach –

Armani dusted off the traditional suit, but looks felt relaxed and unencumbered — unsurprisingly, following the constraints on movement felt over the past year.

The deconstructed, unlined jacket, the brand’s emblem since its founding in 1975, was also in the spotlight, sometimes sporty, sometimes featuring more dandy flair.

Armani was the last of three fashion heavyweights to hold live shows in Milan, after Dolce & Gabbana’s show Saturday at the Metropol, a former movie theatre that has become the brand’s headquarters, and Etro’s show Sunday, which transformed old railroad tracks into a catwalk.

The majority of brands, however, including Prada and Ermenegildo Zegna, offered filmed presentations for fashion week.

Prada’s, presented Sunday, saw models emerge from a claustrophobic red tunnel to emerge on a sunny beach in Sardinia.

“Immersing yourself in nature, going to the beach, is synonymous with freedom. It is utopian. It’s really a primal need, but it’s also an intellectual need,” said designer Miuccia Prada.

Together with co-creative director Raf Simons, Prada brought back short-shorts for men, loose or close to the body, often rolled up, and combined with blazers, colourful tank tops, leather jackets or classic waxed raincoats.