Giorgio Armani is the grand old man in an industry fuelled by novelty. Which is why some neophyte fashion observers question his relevance.
Yet it has just emerged that Lady Gaga has signed up to collaborate with Armani on a tranche of Gaga fashion super-statements.
And yesterday the 76-year-old Italian presented the last major show of the Milan spring/summer 2011 collections that fizzed with verve, imagination and energy.
Inspired by the nomadic Tuareg people, this confident, all-blue wardrobe featured Armani's signature slouchy, American Gigolo, soft tailoring in leather jackets, undulating and iridescent silk trouser suits and blouses with understated collars as irregular as the dunescape projected on the back of the Armani theatre.
In the eveningwear section there were plenty of event frocks and tiered gowns -- some with superfluous bows -- for the customers who continue to turn to this label for special occasions.
Planet Fashion would be much duller without another Italian old-timer, Roberto Cavalli, who with typical understatement elected to show his 40th anniversary collection in the shadow of a grandiose triumphal arch erected by Napoleon III.
The clothes hit every Cavalli sweetspot; there were tigerprint boob tubes, backless python print jackets, more fringing than a Mod convention (this isn't escalator wear) and tight trousers.
Cavalli, who turns 70 in November yet continues to fill his summers throwing celebrity-thronged, champagne-fuelled parties on his gigantic purple yacht, the RC, has a mouth almost as expressive as his hair.
In an entertaining interview with Women's Wear Daily today he airily dismisses Armani and Prada as boring. When he took his bow alongside Eva, his beauty-queen wife (who is in charge of much of the design), the Cavalli shirt was unbuttoned to perilously close to his navel.