To show or not to show: each Milan fashion house had to make a difficult decision about how to reach the fashion public this season under the safety constraints imposed to counteract Covid-19. Italy’s fashion capital – one of the top four runway cities in the world – has worked hard to maintain a near-real fashion week , with 23 live shows; coming after New York, which was mostly virtual, and London, where designers mostly met with small groups of editors . Paris will be the next city to test the waters with live shows. “We need to start from the position that this cannot be compared with the past. We are starting from now, doing the best with the situation that exists today,’’ said the president of Italy’s fashion council, Carlo Capasa. ‘’It is important to give a voice to the brands. Above all, to do it in safety.’’ Below is our pick of highlights from the previews of mostly womenswear for the next warm weather season. Armani explores past and present Giorgio Armani was the first Milan designer to show his collection behind closed doors, making the decision in February after Italy’s first locally transmitted coronavirus case was detected while Milan Fashion Week was under way. The 86-year-old designer was not about to take chances and open the doors to guests with the pandemic still active seven months later. How luxury brands are breaking back into China post-pandemic “I don’t know when we will recover the formula’’ of live runway shows, Armani told journalists during a presentation. While he said there is no substituting the energy of a runway show, he himself doesn’t mind the respite. “Honestly, if I were 30 years young, I would miss it. Being that many years older, I am fine the way it is,’’ he said. In its place, he created a virtual event featuring a 20-minute film retrospective of his 45-year career. The film, that was broadcast not only on the internet but on private Italian television, served as an introduction to the 13-minute runway show. The combined women’s and men’s collection featured 60 looks for her and 39 for him. Armani said he worried that the film was “a little exhibitionist. … But ordinary people hardly ever get to see what goes on behind this sort of work. So I took advantage of the chance to let them see.’’ The film put the spotlight on Armani’s philosophy that it is the person, not the clothes, that should be remembered; the Armani woman “is utterly herself without apology,’’ Cate Blanchett told an interviewer. It also celebrated the Armani innovation of softer jackets described as a “second skin.” The new collection, inspired by Armani’s own heritage, featured anything but lockdown looks . The women’s clothes were rich and detailed: silken trousers, patchwork jackets and sequin and beaded evening dresses finished with big jewellery pieces and pretty clutches all for a night out. Men wore slate-grey business suits with dark ties, or more casual three-piece suits with the vest serving as the top. The videotaped runway show ended with a close-up of a model looking steadily into the camera instead of the usual view of Armani taking a bow from the stage door. “I thought it was enough,’’ the designer said. The garment included a beaded detail of a cat – an homage to Armani’s own feline, Angel, who died this summer. TV viewers were then treated to a broadcast of American Gigolo , the 1980 film starring Richard Gere in an exclusive Armani wardrobe. 3 reasons why US luxury brands will suffer without Chinese students Ferragamo explores real and surreal The Salvatore Ferragamo fashion crowd gathering under the moonlit sky in a rotunda was greeted with the soundtrack of clashing birds, then spooked by a Technicolor suspense film of well-heeled urban dwellers clicking up and down Milan’s marble passageways and hidden stairwells. Creative director Paul Andrew said he spent the lockdown re-watching classic Hitchcock suspense films. The experience blurred the lines between the real and the surreal, inspiring his latest collection. Oscar-nominated director Luca Guadagnino shot the short film that was shown ahead of the live runway show, treating viewers to a Hitchcock-inspired vertiginous view of an empty Milan suspiciously inhabited entirely by beautiful young people smartly dressed in Ferragamo. “The collection echoes that gorgeous hyperreal level of colour saturation that is so evident in the beautiful technical masterpiece that is Vertigo ,’’ Andrew said in notes. The palette was a rainbow of faintly bright yellow, sky blue, lime green, mauve and pigeon grey. Women wore smart skirt suits befitting Hitchcock leading lady Tippi Hedren, a fisherman’s knit minidress straight out of Bodega Bay and feather-tasselled trousers worn like a trophy after winning a tussle with the birds. Andrew’s footwear innovations for the season include square-toed slingbacks and the F-wedge shoe that puts the heel elegantly at the instep. Men wore perforated leather jackets with loose trousers and suits with 1940s boxy jackets and bright trenches. A soft bootee was the shoe of the season. Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .