As his Italian rivals Max Mara and Roberto Cavalli kept the 1970s groove going in Milan, Armani opted for a sprightly, sporty look typified by mini-jumpsuits that, with their plunging necklines and open backs, were akin to a racy version of a 1930s swimsuit.
The feel of the latest collection in Armani's youth-targeted second line was high summer and relaxing within reach of the glistening azur of the Mediterranean. Cornflower was the dominant blue and evening skirts and dresses were cut well above the knee and paired with sneakers. Blue and white-trimmed blazers, gathered at the back, were another key component along with semi-transparent hoops of PVC used to create a bodice effect on some tops.
It was, Armani told reporters, a collection for "the women we find around us". Asked for his view on Scotland's independence referendum, Armani did not refrain from offering a perspective he acknowledged could annoy some people. "It will not please the English and there are those who would not say this for fear of retaliation, but I am for independence and if I was Scottish I would vote yes," he told reporters.
Max Mara's main collection was inspired by the unconventional looks and style of two actresses who were influential figures in 1970s cinema. British creative director Ian Griffiths took his cue from images of Anjelica Huston in Max Mara's own 1971 campaign and the French actress Dominique Sanda in Oscar-winning "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis" (1970) to forge a collection rich in micro-floral and geometric prints.
Calfskin coats, figure-hugging dresses and even some of the platform-heeled boots all got the vibrant print treatment. As with Gucci's 2015 spring/summer show 24 hours earlier, waists were accentuated throughout, notably in military blousons, summer trench coats and voluminous, ankle-length skirts in the sheer, ultralight crepe fabric known as Georgette.
With all the catwalk models sporting floppy, beach-style "cloche" hats it was a collection that also evoked Diane Keaton's character in Woody Allen's "Annie Hall" -- one of cinema's benchmarks for the quirky, independent femininity that Griffiths was seeking to infuse into the new collection.
Femininity tipped over into an overtly provocative sexiness at Fendi, where slashed necklines and very short dresses and skirts punctuated a collection put together for the Roman house by Karl Lagerfield. British model Cara Delevingne was seen struggling down the catwalk in a classic Fendi shift dress with an orchid floral print and vertiginous strappy stilettoes.
The look was offset by a giant orchid-shaped hairpiece that, judging by the reaction on social media, looked like becoming one of the hottest accessories of the week. Roberto Cavalli was another designer mining the theme of 1970s glamour in a collection for his Just Cavalli line that shared a seaside feel with Armani's Emporio, albeit more Ibiza nightclub than Portofino marina.
Most strikingly, there were bell-bottom leggings in bright geometric patterns, hoops and unforgiving white: perhaps not for the "women around us" that Armani referred to. (Angus Mackinnon, AFP)
Images from Vogue