By Marie-Louise Gumuchian
MILAN (Reuters) - Italian fashion heavyweight Giorgio Armani played with various shades of red for his main womenswear line for next spring, using the color as a thread throughout his usual clean cut and elegant designs as he wrapped Milan's six days of catwalk shows.
The 81-year-old designer, who once worked as a window dresser and now has a global fashion empire, used red throughout the spring/summer 2016 collection on Monday, colouring ribbed and beaded jackets, shorts, dresses and evening gowns.
The tones varied in flame and geranium but there were also paler shades mixed with gray, cream and black.
In front of an audience including Italian actress Sophia Loren, models strutted down the catwalk in soft jackets teamed with loose organza trousers, short jumpsuits and chiffon dresses, accessorised with wedge sandals and sometimes large wavy hats.
Armani, nicknamed "King Giorgio" in Italy, is known for being hands-on in creating one of the world's most recognized fashion brands, seen both on the street and red carpet.
He mixed textures, patterns and played with veils to create layers -- sheer skirts and dresses were worn over shorts and trousers with sparkling fringed ponchos adding the finishing touch.
Shiny beading decorated jacket and shorts combinations and dresses. The show ended with a trio of sparkly evening gowns.
Armani, who celebrates 40 years in fashion this year, unveiled his autobiography afterwards.
The hefty book, priced at $150 or $350 for a deluxe version with royalties donated to the United Nations Children's Fund, features famed fashion shots and previously unpublished photos.
"I wanted (to write) this book, because I had memories, feelings inside of me that I wanted to share rather than take away with me," Armani said.
Milan Fashion Week ends amid an upbeat mood; Italy's national chamber of fashion has forecast a five percent rise in sales this year to 64.5 billion euros ($72 billion).
"The numbers seem to say that things are going well," the chamber's head, Carlo Capasa, told Reuters. "It seems all is going in the right direction."
(Reporting By Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Janet Lawrence)