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Mr. Ar­mani called his Au­tumn/ Win­ter ’13 cou­ture col­lec­tion ‘Nude’, a study of light and trans­parency that was achieved us­ing ma­te­ri­als such as tulle, organza, and crino­line. Sculpted, beaded, and en­crusted with crys­tals, the dresses made for a breath­tak­ing col­lec­tion.

Lo­cated in Ar­mani’s head­quar­ters on Via Bor­gon­uovo in Mi­lan, is the ate­lier where the Privé col­lec­tion comes to life. The team of seam­stresses is split into smaller teams, each led by a pre­mière. There are two sep­a­rate classes of cou­ture seam­stresses: the ‘light wear’ seam­stresses, who spe­cialise in del­i­cate, gos­samer fab­rics in­clud­ing tulle, chif­fon, and organza; and the ‘heavy wear’ seam­stresses who spe­cialise in over­wear.

Once the theme is de­fined, a mood board is cre­ated to re­flect the de­signer’s in­spi­ra­tions. The ma­te­ri­als, em­broi­dery, ac­ces­sories, and fin­ish­ing touches are cho­sen and the toiles cre­ated to give a clear idea of the out­fit’s fi­nal ap­pear­ance – its shape, length, vol­ume, and trims. Mr. Ar­mani makes the first amend­ments in terms of colour, fab­ric, and tex­ture based on th­ese.

The fine em­broi­dery work seen in the cou­ture col­lec­tion is made en­tirely by hand in the most fa­mous Ital­ian and French ate­liers. Made specif­i­cally to the pat­tern given, this em­broi­dery work can in­clude many dif­fer­ent in­serts such as Swarovski crys­tals, se­quins, and stones. In the event the stones need to be of a very pre­cise colour, they are in­di­vid­u­ally hand­painted be­fore they are ap­plied.

For heav­ier out­fits, a tulle bodice with reeds is cre­ated and this is worn by the mod­els. The out­fit is checked re­peat­edly to en­sure that the way in which the fab­ric falls, the drapes, the width, vol­ume, trims, and fin­ish­ings ad­here to the sketches and mea­sure­ments of the out­fit. Mr. Ar­mani fol­lows the en­tire process and makes changes up till a day be­fore the show. A cou­ture out­fit can take up to an as­tound­ing 3,000 hours to make, for pieces that re­quire fine lace and in­tri­cate em­broi­dery.

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