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Armani Prive' hails nomadic elegance

Eclecticism makes comeback at Paris haute couture shows

22 January, 15:25
Armani Prive' hails nomadic elegance (By Elisa Cecchi) (ANSA) - Paris, January 21 - Giorgio Armani this week sent down the runway of his haute couture Prive' show in Paris a globetrotter who succumbs to the influence of different ethnic vibes, deftly mixing East and West.

Samarkand patterns and classic menswear necktie motifs breathed as one in a spring 2014 couture collection whose tribal inspiration in the soft shape of pieces and subtle patterns such as the Indian theme of jacquards was balanced off by Western staples like day-time blazers.

Odalisk-shaped pants were worn under slim jackets subtly worked with silk over tulle, a sublime workmanship used in a long black and white pleated skirt.

Suits were cut from shiny fabrics that caught the eye like sparkling silver - lending a fluidity that continued with dresses where lace and sheer textures were mixed with paillettes and rhinestones for added sparkle.

Corsets were small with skirts playing the lead role - an explosion of crystalline light.

Yet deluxe details were played down by organza lace, which added mystery and subtleness to in-your-face gleam in a harmonious balance of diversity evident in ensembles like gazar skirts mixed with a couture blazer or a T-shirt with Swarovski crystals.

Armani, who has been playing with ethnic elements of late, used midnight blue and silvery grey - dark and light - for soft glamour and steely sparkle.

Accessories drew from a multitude of moods and made a statement, notably big pendant earrings and head silk wraps oozing nostalgic Hollywood glamour for Armani clients who win Oscars.

On Tuesday night the 79-year-old designer also inaugurated the 'Armani Eccentrico' exhibit, which has travelled to Milan, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Rome and New York.

Open until January 26, the exhibit showcases over 80 Giorgio Armani and Armani Prive' pieces.

And after a 60-year hiatus, Elsa Schiaparelli's daring anti-conformism took on new life as the fashion house acquired by Italian luxury entrepreneur Diego Della Valle in 2006 debuted Monday its first couture collection since 1954.

Milan-born Marco Zanini, 43, who Della Valle appointed as creative director after a long search for the right designer to resuscitate the fashion house, trod the fine line between eccentric boldness and easy elegance, honouring and pushing forward one of the most copied designers from the last century - a woman defined by Coco Chanel as ''an artist loaned to fashion'' over her ability to fuse the two.

The audacious woman who loved bright pink was friends with Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dalì and designed the iconic dress worn by Wallis Simpson in the 1930s with a lobster crawling up between the legs. She closed her atelier in 1954.

Other iconic pieces included suits with lip-shaped pockets, sweaters with printed bows and neckties and hats shaped like shoes.

She was provocative and mocked convention yet the undisputed elegance and grace of her creations drew a clientele ranging from the Duchess of Windsor to Joan Crawford.

Zanini's first collection for Schiaparelli included dark menswear-sized blazers over taffeta dresses in neutral colours, embroidered bolero jackets, soft pants with tiny tribal warrior prints, long polka dot dresses, shorts, a brocade cape and a bride wearing a pantsuit.

A number of pieces had a sober appearance until the richly decorated insides were revealed - like feathers in a black tuxedo or the motifs inside jackets.

The mood was eclectic, at times audacious and romantic.

The colour palette embraced green, blue and a bold strawberry hue to re-create the late designer's notorious 'shocking pink'.

Monday's debut had nothing of Schiaparelli's 1938 Circus show which featured acrobats but spoke to a modern clientele vying for authentic elegance with a surrealist, audacious touch.

''Schiaparelli brought irreverence to fashion and turned it into elegance like a thunderbolt'', said Zanini, who worked as creative director at Rochas for five years and previously at Dolce & Gabbana, Versace and Halston before he was hired by Della Valle last year.

''The shocking aspect today doesn't have the same relevance it had in the 1930s and it has acquired a different meaning, that of surprise''.

Highly successful fashion revivals have included recently Celine under Phoebe Philo and Balenciaga under Nicholas Ghesquiere, who will now replace Marc Jacobs at LVMH's Louis Vuitton.

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