I arrived in Milan for the fall 2007 women's fashion shows on Sunday afternoon after a complete air line nightmare. Delays, long lines, bad tempers (mine) and power-mad air line employees. But in the Italian fashion capital the sun was shining, the Prada store near my hotel was stocked with spectacular shoes and the Marni shop was calling my name. Life is good.
I'd like to begin with a few odds and ends from the last day of the New York shows.The final show for me was the Chado Ralph Rucci show where I ran into "Project Runway's" Laura Bennett, who was sitting front row with her husband. Laura was practically giddy over her prime seating, and she looked quite elegant in a black-sequined dress of her own design and a long black broadtail coat that belonged to her mother-in-law.
Laura reports that she's going to be a spokesperson for Dress for Success, which sounds like a perfect fit all around.
Now, on to Milan. I began my Monday with designer Giorgio Armani, who hosted a news conference and press preview of the exhibition named after him. Fans of Mr. Armani (and everyone calls him Mister, by the way) might recall the exhibit on his work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York back in 2000 or so. Apparently the exhibition has been traveling the world since then and getting bigger all along the way.
The news conference -- and I use the term "news" loosely -- began with the curator and designer and sponsor of the exhibition all chatting amiably about their involvement in the show and singing the praises of Mr. Armani. He, by the way, was not in the room while all this was going on. He was waiting to make his grand entrance.
The blah, blah, blah about Mr. Armani, most of which was in Italian, essentially translated to: "Armani is the fashion Messiah."
After that was made clear, Mr. Armani was introduced, and he made his entrance a bit like a rock star but without the fireworks. He spoke about being humbled by the exhibition, which addresses his more than 30-year career in the business, and used the word "genius" to describe both himself and his work. At first I thought perhaps there was an awkward translation, but no, "genius" was the word. No one should ever say that Mr. Armani is not a self-assured man.
After the blah, blah and a cappuccino, I toured the exhibition. It is a bit overwhelming because there is simply so much of the Armani oeuvre. It seems that nary a bead was left out of the show. There's a whole room filled with clothes worn by celebrities and if nothing else, it's impossible not to note that a lot of these actors, such as Julia Roberts and Ashley Judd, are wee women. Pocket women, if you will. Only Leonardo DiCaprio's tuxedo seemed to amount to much.
I will refrain from using the word "genius" to describe the clothes, but many of them are truly stunning and remarkably timeless. Now whether they belong in a museum is a question that was raised back when the show debuted at the Guggenheim. These are gorgeous clothes but they don't necessarily say anything about the broader culture other than we seem to like our celebrities to be the size of Lilliputians.
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