- AFP |
Giorgio Armani has urged Britain to stay in the European Union, warning that the bloc would be worse off without England's cutting edge influence on fashion and design.
"I'm in favour of the British staying in Europe," the legendary Italian designer said in Milan, where the latest menswear shows wrapped up on Tuesday with the unveiling of Armani's main Spring-Summer 2017 collection.
"The island is part of Europe and I have always seen England as the avant-garde part of Europe -- the bit that moves, that develops, always the first to do something eccentric and to give space for art." Britain is a relatively minor player in Europe's fashion industry in terms of manufacturing and global sales.
But the country's vibrant music and street fashion scenes have helped to make it disproportionately influential on catwalk trends. British designers are dotted around the top fashion houses on the continent and London fashion schools attract talent from all over the world.
A recent survey of UK-based designers by the British Fashion Council found that 90 percent wanted the country to stay in the EU, mainly because of concerns that Brexit would make it harder to export their wares and that international student numbers could fall through tighter visa restrictions.
Vivienne Westwood, one of the innovative designers Armani perhaps had in mind, said it would be "absolutely tragic" if Britain were to leave the EU. "I am disgusted that we might leave," said the 75-year-old who made her name by putting punk style on the catwalk. "I'm ashamed of what is going on in England. It is awful.
"We fought two world wars to have cooperation and unity and now it is like every man for himself," added Westwood. "And somehow the English have been manipulated into thinking they'll get more money if they leave and of course they won't because the whole world is bankrupt and everything is getting worse and worse."
Armani's latest collection was a distinctly fluid affair with the shoulder padding that once defined the house style conspicuous by its absence. The relaxed, destructured theme was emphasised by the lounge feel of the Teatro Armani set and the Caribbean rhythms of the soundtrack.
"The spirit of the Giorgio Armani man embraces change while staying true to its ethos," the designer said in the notes accompanying a collection that seemed to be trying to seduce a younger consumer than the brand generally targets.
Armani's tradition was reflected in a colour palette dominated by greys and blues and the textiles were as luxuriously indulgent as ever with silk, cotton and linen to the fore.
But there were also wide-cut and cropped trousers and sneakers were the shoewear of choice in a collection rich in the kind of bomber jackets, sweatshirts and parkas much favoured by millennials. And crucially for that demographic there were no skinny jeans to be seen anywhere.
The Armani show, which "House of Cards" star Kevin Spacey watched from the front row, brought down the curtain on a menswear season whose future is in doubt because of the growing trend for the major houses to either put on combined men/women's catwalk shows or to abandon the catwalk altogether.
A total of 11 brands that normally show menswear lines in Milan were absent, including Roberto Cavalli, Bottega Veneta, Ermenegildo Zegna, Brioni and Antonio Marras. Armani has stayed loyal to the week but made it clear he is growing tired of organisers using his prestigious brand as the carrot to keep buyers and media in Milan for as long as possible.
"It should not be me last every time," the 81-year-old told reporters. "The Fashion Chamber needs to move things around more." (AFP)
Photo: Backstage Armani SS17 lineup, Facebook