MILAN — Giorgio Armani opened his womenswear preview for next summer with a short art film by Oscar-winner Paolo Sorrentino titled "Sand," the weather-beaten grains that inspired the designer's latest collection.
The film, shot from a boat in the Aeolian archipelago north of Sicily, featured sand in all forms: brown sand lapped by the sea, black sand with its volcanic past and chalky white sand bleached by the sun.
"The images are decisive, strong, very Sorrentino-esque. At first, I expected something softer," Armani said after the show Saturday, the fourth day of Milan Fashion Week. "But seeing them projected on the background of the runway, I understood that he was right."
Sorrentino, who attended the show, said he was enticed by the challenge of making a film about sand.
"It seemed to me to be a marvelously courageous idea, because sand is also related to dust, and therefore difficult to film and give life," he said.
Armani's collection referenced Mediterranean sands both in its colors — powdery gray, rosy white, pearly beige, lava black and chocolate brown — and in the undulating motion created by the light, often translucent, textiles.
The designer tapped into the Mediterranean's cultural richness with flowing wrapped Greek- and Roman-inspired evening dresses, transparent tapering trousers recalling harem pants, tribal rings layered around the neck and hair tightly braided into crowns.
The tribute reached a crescendo with a regal Cleopatra figure enveloped in diaphanous robe, wearing a cascading headdress and holding a purse aloft.
Despite the references, the collection projected a modern, urban feel. The looks were united by fluid silhouettes and rich but diaphanous textiles, so light that a dress could be worn over another dress or pants without bulk.
The 80-year-old Armani, who celebrates 40 years of his company next year, said the inspiration for the collection came to him during his summer holiday.
Juliette Binoche and Jeremy Piven also attended the show.