Paris Couture: Armani Pagoda Prive
Tue Jan 27, 6:51 am ET
Godfrey Deeny

Paris – Giorgio Armani went east on Monday in his latest couture collection, a whirlwind tour taking in Noh theatre and geisha girls from Japan, and colors and even marquetry from China.

Staged in the Trocadero, with its famed views south to the Eiffel Tower, the catwalk display of his spring 2009 couture line, which the designer calls Armani Prive, attracted his long-time fans like actresses Claudia Cardinale and Glenn Close.

"Armani really is exceptional. He's got inexhaustible flow of ideas. Some of those looks were simply amazing," marvelled Close backstage.

All the runway models wore chopped off black wigs, many with lacquered Ronin headbands. Some of his best looks were taut "World of Suzy Wong" cheongsam style dresses with coromandel scene style embroidery.

With some 62 passages, a lot by recent standards for a Paris couture show, the collection was more than a little hit and miss. Armani eschews the use of a stylist, but this show cried out for some editing. There was one yellow cloak with giant fabric curls on the back which really should never have reached the catwalk.

However, when he got it right, which he did most of the time, Armani whipped up some great images - from pagoda shaped ivory tulle tops to a lacquered python skinned jacket that showed what a master couturier he can be. And a series of slim cocktails and columns in champagne and silver hues were so well cut and gorgeous, they caused gasps from the audience.

Armani also went super co-ordinated, in terms of colors and silhouettes, where the arch of a peak shoulder matched the curve of the skirt's hem. Red Chinese marquetry was used as heels for red platforms while encrusted rings complimented encrusted clutches. The selection of platforms and diamante clutches were so good, one wondered who really rivals Armani when it comes to couture accessories.

"It's been a dream of mine to create Asian couture. That's the reason I did it now, not any other," Armani explained.

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