If spring sometimes puts Armani in mind of his island retreat in the Mediterranean, this collection stayed squarely in the city, with the key silhouette for the first section being the shorts-over-leggings signature of the urban bike messenger.
For the entire first half of the show, in fact, it looked like Spring 2011 was going to be a dark place in the Emporio Armani world. Black leather dominated the collection, and a clip from Lady Gaga's "Alejandro" video that played at the finale was a reminder that Giorgio and Gaga collaborated on her latest. It was presumably the S&M erotica of that new hit that provoked one particularly dark group, with wild-boy models glowering through heavy eye makeup and sporting slave chains, studs, and grommets. This sequence also stood as a master class in the treatment of skins, some perforated till they looked like scales.
Finding his way to more familiar territory in the second half, the designer shifted the emphasis to tailoring, in fabrics so light they were almost sheer. Devil or angel? The twin poles of the collection suggested a schism that dramatic. No wonder Gaga saw a kindred spirit.