Armani Privé Fall 2011 Couture Collection

Posted on July 12, 2011

We are WAY behind on the couture collections lately. Expect an info dump of fabulousness in the next couple of days. First up, Giorgio Armani, who presented a couture collection that he called an homage to Japan, which seems to us to be the reverse of a collection that takes inspiration from Japan. The latter smacks of orientalism, but the result here is more formal than cultural. Parasols, rose and chrysanthemum motifs, cherry blossom prints, lacquer, obi belts and of course, origami all take a moment or two in the spotlight here but none of it ever quite approaches literalism or costuming. We love the gowns with the tangerine beads closing the show as well as the Philip Treacy hats throughout.

Armani has long had a fascination with Japan and taken inspiration from it. He claims to have been deeply affected by the tsunami in Japan, and the day this collection was presented, he made a donation to a UNESCO scholarship fund for students and children affected by the disaster. Taken in that light, this really does feel like a master returning to an old friend and muse in a time of need and revisiting the past together.




[Photo Credit: Getty]

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  • An homage to Japan…

    And not a single Japanese model.

    • Thom Bardin

       Cry me a tsunami…

    • Actually, not a single model from that half of the earth. LOL.

  • Anonymous

    Not literal or costumey?  You’re joking, right?

    • Thank you I’m glad I wasn’t the only one thinking that!

    • Thank you I’m glad I wasn’t the only one thinking that!

  • Anonymous

    Exactly, what Angel H. said!

  • Anonymous

    So many very white models.
    Were there none of color or Asian models available?

  • The hats are faboo!

  • MilaXX

    I was prepared to dislike this, but actually find myself liking a lot of the looks. The black and orange combos are my fav, I would love to see a celeb wear one of the pants suits on the RC and really WERQ it.

  • I feel like Uma would look so good in any of these looks! Almost like they were styled to look like her. She should invest.

  • I love kimono, so I am definitely down with these looks.

  • I love these looks. It will certainly make for an interesting red carpet down the road. All those prints. 

  • Jill Roberts

    OK, first – OMG.  Gorgeous collection.  But I can’t shake my unease that a designer would take his *entire* inspiration from one culture, especially when it’s not his.  Creepy. 

  • I don’t think you need to have east asian models just because the collection draws on Japanese motifs and iconography. They are certainly under-represented as a whole on any high fashion runway and no one ever seems to notice unless the collection “looks” like it was inspired by the “far east”. 

    • Why not have east Asian just because? The fact that it was an “homage to Japan” and had no Japanese models was just doubly insulting. IMO, it takes the collection – and the show –  from “homage” straight to “appropriation.”

    • Anonymous

      I don’t know it’s that no notices when non-caucasian models are underrepresented as much as it is that no one comments on the fact. Speaking for myself, I can only say it gets tiresome pointing out the same thing over and over again. And yes, I do agree with you that the models don’t absolutely have to match the culture being represented. Sort of like how shoes don’t have to match the bag. 🙂

      And speaking of cultural representations, TLo are you going to cover the Miss Universe Parade of Nations again this year? Pleeeease?!? I just want to get a pair of Depends ready in case I laugh that hard again.

  • the only way this could have been more literal is if the models were wearing gei-sha style makeup. i do like a lot of it, one jacket especially, but really there’s nothing subtle about this.

  • I am something of a Japanophile, but I don’t much like this collection. I guess the build-up got me expecting something more interesting. I like the flower hats but the faux-“geisha” -wig hats are kind of a one-note joke. . And evoking both the cheongsam and the obi is one kind of orientalism. I don’t like the way the the long dark silhouette bursts into complexity at head, waist, and ankles.

  • when you take away the pretty frippery, you’re left with a bunch of aged Upper East Sider granny suits.  Couture can do better than that.

    • Anonymous

      That was kind of my feeling too.  Lovely colors, nice fabrics, but the lines themselves are very old feeling. 

  • Considering the heavy hand of art deco on this collection, I was fated to like it.  I am a little disappointed in all of this obi/geisha hat though.  It’s all very pretty, but it’s not terribly unexpected.  It’s like an homage to France and everyone wears a beret and carries a baguette, or a German homage of modern lederhosen (not that I wouldn’t love to see that).  It’s the idea of a place you’ve seen in movies.  I’d be much more interested to see something inspired by the fashion zoku.

  • This is a beautiful collection filled with gorgeous prints, and I covet every piece in it.  But it bothers me that all of the models are white.

  • Anonymous

    While I like some individual pieces, on the whole it looks like a lot of fancy costumes for a Japanese-themed party. The UNESCO donation was cool, though.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not loving this.  A lot of the details just seem oddly placed and not comfortable at all.  Not “comfortable” as in “it’s like wearing a snuggie” but comfortable as in they appear to be in the place they are meant to be.  A lot of it seems trying to hard to be Japanese without REALLY being Japanese.  I do like the tangerine peices at the end.

  • Anonymous

    I was a little underwhelmed with this collection. It’s gorgeous! Don’t get me wrong! But, I felt like i’ve seen every single piece before. I think there’s a difference between having a distinctive style and silhouette and making the same dress season to season in different fabrics and colors, you know? and I feel like every one of those dresses up top was made in that resined satin last season, and in brown sequins the season before, and in silver bubble wrap the season before…  

  • Anonymous

    I call it “What Manila Luzon’s closet would look like after she won the lottery”…

  • Wow.  Love these looks…love the shoes too!

  • I’ll be curious to see if any actresses have the balls to rock some of those prints. Kind of dying to someone totally rock one of the suits!

  • I think these clothes are all silly and costumey. Couldn’t picture myself (or anyone I know) wearing any of these pieces.

  • Seriously? It feels pretty literal and costumey to me. I live in Japan and except for the black dress with the orange bands, this is less “Japan” and more “2011 Memoirs of a Geisha.”

    I would love to see someone do a take on “Japan” that involved more real Japanese things. Modern Japanese clothing, at least in my neck of the woods, has a very specific and distinctive look. Overshirt shirts and short shorts on the young women, woven linen jackets and printed housedresses on the old women. Loose clothes and baggy silhouettes for everyone. Gloves and hats and socks/tights everywhere. Loads of patterns and prints. Loads of neutrals and pastels.

    If we must go the kimono and obi route, even modern kimono have features other than “cherry blossoms.” My friend owns a gorgeous kimono with a wild green/purple 70’s-ish kaleidoscope pattern and pairs it with a brown obi with a leaf pattern. It’s stunning. I’d like to see that on a runway.

    • i agree w/ this, tho i must say i think it is an almost universally stunning collection. but it looks like a precious, overwhelmingly beautifully costumed cartoon. not that i wouldnt wear it could i afford it. i would. i really love it. but its references scream that the designer is old enough to have been using, or at least comfortable w/, these references fifty years ago & that he is still enjoying & employing the same ones.

  • Anonymous

    Some very pretty pieces here. I look forward to seeing them in real life and in larger photos. The matchy purses are a nice touch. The gown with the black top and print skirt (with the huge pink bow on the model’s head) is really lovely. The orange gown makes me think of a koi pond. No accident, I am sure!

    • oohsparkley!

      I thought of koi also, for several of the shiny orange & gold outfits, even the orange and black.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a total whore for Japanese florals. I love this collection. I understand that it isn’t groundbreaking or anything, but it is very, very beautiful.

  • Anonymous

    Pretty but unwearable.  None of these outfits will ever see the light of day.

  • The Japanese inspiration is extremely apparent, but I guess not too literal, and not cliché either! It is nice; I like it.

  • Anonymous

    Do not like the prints. 

    Only ones that catch my eye – in a good way – are the ones on the right in the last 2 rows.

  • Anonymous

    love it all! i wish i was rich….

  • Christine Marie

    Gasp. I love it. 

  • Gorgeous. My favorite shade of orange.

  • Anonymous

    I usually love Armani, but there’s always an exception.  This would be one of them.  I may be biased though because he managed to hit most of my least favorite color combinations.  And I agree with those who find it literal and,costumey.  

    Choosing a high-water length for the pants seems like a terrible homage to Japan.  I doubt he meant it that way, but that’s one of the first things I noticed.   

  • alinelapeire

    Shees, that mirroring runway is annoying.

  • Anonymous

    Some woman with darker coloring needs to wear that orange fish-scale dress, without the pants, and look stunning in it.  (I nominate Kerry Washington.)

  • Anonymous

    This is Armani!? Too complicated for my tastes. And I agree— no Japanese models!?

  • I really love it, but I am kind of a sucker for the kimono look. I still remember that gorgeous Galliano show from spring ’94(?) and this kind of reminds me of it. 
    I have to agree, though, on the weird lack of Japanese models.

  • I wish these photos were bigger, or we could open a larger image in a new window. As it stands, I can’t see most of the details, and it sucks, because these look like beautiful clothes. 

    Like everyone else, I really don’t understand the gaggle of Caucasian women in Japanese inspired clothing. Smells like cultural appropriation.  

  • Kate Gorton

    Gorgeous. Maybe we’ll finally see some more celebs rockin’ the pantsuit on the RC now!

  • Anonymous

    I love every piece except the final one, especially the one with the pink headdress.

  • mcarlson

    Love every single thing. Fabulous.

  • Anonymous

    really quite lovely

  • Anonymous

    Love love love it all

  • I suppose I just don’t “think” about the clothing too terribly much because all I thought was “OOOH PRETTY!” and “GASP” and “GORGEOUS!” throughout (well, except for that first look, that made me think “no woman wants to tuck her boobs into her belt!).  I covet some of these pieces and would pair some of those skirts with simple tops and feeling like a million frickin’ bucks in them.  Isn’t it interesting how our views and tastes differ so much?

    As far as the issue of them not using Japanese models in the show, I almost feel that Japanese models would’ve made it feel even more costumey (is that even a word?).  Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing a diversity of models on the runway, but I also don’t pay much attention to the models…just the clothing they’re wearing.

  • Anonymous

    I love the colors and the prints. It is truly a beautiful collection except (IMO) for the tangerine at the end, especially the final sparkly tangerine and black. And tho’ I’m not a fan of hats in general I do like all the hats.
    Never even thought about Japanese models–it probably wouldn’t have made a difference to me, but I  do agree with Ginger, it might have felt more costumey (see I used it, so it MUST be a word)

  • Anonymous

    Two of these, including the opening one, feel very costumey to me. The bulk of the collection, though, feels like a wonderful way for a woman to dress. 

  • Isy

    LOVE the dress that looks like a koi fish, but that’s about it for me from this collection. I like the white floral print, but I think it (and the rest of the prints) would have been better utilised on clothes that aren’t such a literal take on traditional Japanese clothing. I think the prints are distracting because they’re so lovely… but this is pretty bad. 

    Also, I don’t know. Those last two gowns remind me heavily of sushi rolls and I find it terribly off-putting. Just me?

  • “Info dump of fabulousness”. How can I use this phrase in my everyday life?

    • margaret meyers

      The other day on the Daily Show they used “schadenfreudgasm” to describe what’s happening to Murdoch in England.  I don’t know   w h e n   I will get ti use that, but it’ll be huge, I’m sure.

  • Anyone else majorly distracted by the side boobage in that last picture?

  • Warmheartedgirl Seattle

    Surprisingly wearable for couture.  Beautiful prints!  Thumbs up.

  • Anonymous

    So torn. I love the colors here, and the majority of the fabrics, period.

    But the a lot of the ensembles are overly busy with costume-Japanese and as shown would be be so unflattering as to be unwearable by most women. Even if you are bone thin and proportional, if you are petite a lot of these will overwhelm. The high-water-with-a-flare pants (is there a name for that?) paired mostly with jackets that cut away around the abdomen or cut the model above the hip bones are not flattering.

    There are about half a dozen to-die-fors (orange lined black coat on right in third row, the two piece with black & orange bands below it – though that top looks like it would make a well-endowed woman look like a tank – , the gorgeous capelet that is shown over black sequins on the right in the next to last row, several more of the long skirted looks.

    I really wanted to like the two left (suit-like) ensembles in the 5th row of triple photos, but they’re just not quite, somehow.

    The colors and most of the prints are unbelievably wonderful, I’m left thinking it would have taken very little to take the collection as a whole to a better place.  But I am possibly confounding my personal tastes with interesting design.

  • Andrea Rossillon

    They all look to me like something Molly Ringwald’s character would shoot for in “Pretty in Pink”.

  • Anonymous

    The first half of the collection shown above doesn’t do it for me at all. Not digging the cropped pants in the least. The second half however, has some pretty awesome pieces. So loving the tangerine.

  • Love, love, love the gowns – especially the last one orange and black sequins. I feel like I should hate the pant’s length but I don’t.

  • I was kind of bored by this. I’m tired of “Japanese homage/inspiration” simply meaning attempts to re-invent the kimono. It seems like an obvious go-to when the culture has so much more to it than samurai and geisha.

  • The only thing that makes me happy about this collection is the colors. I look awesome in that color orange, so I get excited when it’s “fashionable” and I can find pieces in that color.

  • Anonymous

    its all kind of corny and literal and funny to me. A Caricature. Like Mickey Rooney in Breakfast – and why all the anglo models? 

  • It looks like a runway from Carolina Herrera.