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Armani channels The Matrix in Milan

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A surprising turn of events on the fourth day of men’s Milan fashion week: Armani has embraced extreme “gorpcore”.

The trend of wearing outdoorsy clothes in the city was a dominant theme at the Italian fashion label’s cinematic autumn/winter collection.

Steam-punk goggles added to a sense of disorientation. Photograph: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

At the show on Monday the guests, which included the actors Taron Egerton and Stellan Skarsgård, were welcomed to a stage that resembled the set of a Tom Cruise action film: models walked around giant ice blocks (actually recycled plastic blobs) as a projection of falling snow played above them.

“Armani’s fashion embraces the man, enhancing his persona,” said the show notes, and the theatrics expressed themselves in the clothes. The opening look was a utility-vest-cum-hoodie, worn unzipped on the shoulders, accessorised with boxing glove-style mittens and Ugg-shaped boots that clung to the models’ feet like medical scrubs.

Giorgio Armani appears at the end of his cinematic autumn/winter collection. Photograph: Matteo Bazzi/EPA

This was followed by a Mad Max-style black jumpsuit, while a smothering full-length puffer coat with matching balaclava resembled the prehistoric beast in Creature from the Black Lagoon. The appearance of flourishes such as steam-punk goggles and snoods added to the sense of disorientation.

This focus on performance also involved a reference to perhaps the most famous icon of dystopia: Neo from The Matrix. Featuring futuristic sunglasses and a long leather jacket with a furry collar, the Matrix coat was a key trend in menswear collections this season, cropping up on the Fendi, Martine Rose and John Lawrence Sullivan catwalks.

Nehru suits were among the show’s best pieces. Photograph: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

Giorgio Armani is most often pilloried when he strays from the sleek men’s tailoring with which he made his name. And in this Milan show, some of the most extreme iterations of gorpcore felt like a step too far.

The best looks came in the middle of the show, when Armani focused on the Nehru suit silhouette, rendered in safari green and velvet, in slate grey worn with a black polo neck and in watermelon pink. This felt like classic Armani – brilliant clothes with a subtle twist, rather than Giorgio Goes Gorpcore.

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