While video cameras revealed the bustle backstage at Dolce & Gabbana, with hairdressers making final tweaks and make-up artists glossing the lips of models, the new autumn collection opened with moody black-and-white film footage projected on a big screen. It showed the two designers working in the atelier on their collection, with Stefano Gabbana holding a pen and sketch pad on his knee and Domenico Dolce fitting the tailoring, giving an intriguing glimpse of the designers' working relationship.
As the film ended, with Dolce fitting jackets on a model, the show opened (and closed) with an homage to the black jacket: a parade of models wearing every permutation of the black-jacket-and-big-knickers combo - Dolce and Gabbana's trademark underwear-as-outerwear style. Such has been the success of the summer collection, which retraced the Sicilian aesthetic of the designers' early days, that they have built on it by adding more tailoring and, of course, their signature lace dresses with corsetry. Luxurious lace over bright satin slips alongside 1950s-style pencil skirts and bustier dresses give a new generation of Dolce & Gabbana customers a sense of the sensuality and magic of the early collections.
Of course, Giorgio Armani is one of the great masters of the tailored jacket, and the way that they gently wrap the body or drape and fasten to one side has made his business one of Italian fashion's greatest success stories. There was a hint of geometry in the cut of his latest collection, where the mostly monochrome palette gave his swishy, A-line skirts and velvet capes a graphic quality. Shots of coral red and Tibetan orange were used to highlight slender black dresses, with a corolla of fabric curving around the body, or to emphasise the clean, asymmetric lines of one-shoulder dresses. The overall effect was very precise and chic, the new capes making it look fresh.
Intriguingly, given that the Oscars are approaching, there were only two long dresses on the catwalk - Armani designs most of his long gowns for the atelier collection that he shows in January. Meanwhile, the traditionally sportier daywear that always features in his Emporio line stayed in the showroom while his catwalk show featured a strong eveningwear collection of tuxedo dressing: boxy bolero jackets with flirty skirts and pretty little party dresses.
Armani himself will be in Dubai soon for the opening of his new hotel in the Burj Khalifa - now that will be a well-dressed event.