For his Emporio Armani show on Monday morning designer Giorgio Armani drew a line in the sand. Make that a line in the fabric. As he sent out for himself the challenge of creating a graphic collection that delved into the transcendent and transformative power of the line.
Armani chose to highlight the geometry of his ensembles by limiting the color palette almost exclusively to shades of black and white - and their kissing cousin hues of gray and navy. In this way the stark contrasts became even bolder and more striking on the catwalk.
There was something rather mathematical and man-made about it all. Jackets cut in grid patterns. Wavy line shirts that brought to mind the tracking of sound waves. Bands of thick and thin colors across tops that looked like studies in striation.
But Armani also moved past those first degree explorations of linear design. He used quilting to give a three dimensional twist on the concept. He took the grid pattern and blew it up so that a fitted zip-up jacket looked as if it had been spliced together, the slashes still very much apparent. And he used matte and shine fabrics in the same hue to help delineate trousers.
But what really drew the eye were Armani's grid print tops. Designed as if an outside force had disrupted their framework, the unexpected irregularity created a sartorial tension that was rather engaging.
Armani absolutely walked the line with this collection. But it was when he didn't follow the rules that this show was at its strongest.