Paris, July 9 - A black lacquered box on Tuesday opened to reveal Armani Privé's haute couture fall-winter aesthetic as the master of Italian classicism played with a red-white-black deck to show a bold new hand. "I was tired of nuances and half measures, this is high fashion defined with a firm hand", said Giorgio Armani.
And the powerful definition showcased on the Parisian haute couture catwalk proved this designer, who will be turning 80 on July 11, is far from being confined within his trademark greige and navy. The 'boite laquée' used as stage set was full of surprises - a house of cards finely built on proportions in a red and black crescendo interspersed with white, with a game of polka dots, tulle veils and chenille embroidery giving depth to the game.
Like the proddings of pride and passion in Stendhal's Rouge et Noir, red and black were juxtaposed and took on the contours of geometric patterns on coatdresses or jackets with shorts.
White was the tool to offset their boldness.
The collection had a feminine yet industrial flavour in the use of technical fabrics usually employed to line clothes - their edginess giving light and elegance to statement pieces like a black jacket with ruffle overlays in synthetic chiffon made to look like astrakhan or a red coat with vinyl strips and rhinestones.
Oversized coats looked like fur but were made out of organza, while mohair was actually nylon.
Feminine quilted-effect capes and slim jackets were mixed with shorts - a major statement in Armani's collection.
The appeal of shorts ennobled by Italy's fashion deacon to couture status vied for a youthful clientele, as did the A-line jackets with perky little shoulders.
Jackets had an edgy feminine silhouette with sleeves that went high on the shoulder and appeared separate from the bust. Yet Armani Privé went beyond the ongoing Parisian buzz for young couture costumers.
He dressed a woman not defined by age but by her uncompromising grit, either perched on high heels or confidently striding in flats.
Indeed lines blurred for eveningwear as the streamlined clothes playing out for day gave way to gowns fluffed out in soft silhouettes enveloping the body.
Black and white tulle dresses were enveloped in metres of netted veil interspersed with red dots - a new constellation in the Armani universe.
Tulle toyed with divergent depths, layered over a gown's skirt or used like a veil making the head a starting point from which to envelop the body, like a Spanish mantilla. Creations "fit for a dream which justifies the cost", said Armani, who closed his fine game with a mermaid-shaped red gown, the bust hidden under a bolero jacket crafted with chiffon strips - a voluminous yet soft armour.