Less Street, More Sophistication at Givenchy

Riccardo Tisci moved Givenchy beyond the streetwear inspirations of seasons past with edgy but elegant femininity, writes Jessica Michault for Nowfashion.com.

PARIS, France — “Fun, flirty but very strong,” said Rihanna backstage after the Givenchy show as she celebrated with fellow music heavyweight Kanye West and Kendall Jenner, who walked in the show and is half sister to West’s fiancée Kim Kardashian. Maybe Riri’s talents are wasted as a musician and her real skills lay in fashion reporting, because in one quick sound bite she nailed what made this particular Givenchy collection so special.

This season, designer Riccardo Tisci moved Givenchy away from the street and into the realm of sophistication. This collection was all about elegance with an edge.  It was a dense (in a good way) show filled with attention-grabbing ideas, unexpected mélanges and some killer new “it” accessories.

If Tisci dressed the “ladies who lunch” crowd, this is what they would wear. Models, their visages given an instant facelift thanks to temple tape that tauted the skin around the eyes to get ride of nonexistent crow’s feet, took to the catwalk in proper knee-length fluttery silk dresses. Their motifs were classic feminine prints: butterflies, leopard spots, and serpent skin. But the designer found a way to undercut any possibility of sweetness by zooming in on the pattern of a papillon wing, inserting embroidered round patches at the shoulders or creating a contrasting butterfly pattern motif at the chest.

It was also great to see Tisci developing ideas he first introduced during his equally strong menswear show in this womenswear collection. Most significantly, his use of stiff bands of contrasting colours on trouser pockets or stretching across the shoulder blades of a jacket. This time they also became clever elastic waistbands that held colourful tied-up sweaters to the back of a dress or skirt like a modern day bustle. Or as a wide strip of transparent plastic set into the waistline of a fur coat which was a particular favorite of singer Beth Ditto, who took in the show.

Givenchy fans will be spoiled for choice when it comes to urbane outerwear. Each tailored fur coat, because a fur coat is what you get from Tisci, was crafted out of a collection of different pelts. It was an idea that created a beautiful textural tension on the catwalk.

And the final four looks, which featured black pleated skirts or trousers and shell tops crafted out of glossy snakeskin or encrusted with colorful crystals that mimicked the pattern of butterfly wings, raised hopes that maybe Cate Blanchett would be wearing a version of one of these creations later tonight on the Oscar red carpet.

Now wouldn’t that make for a perfect finish to this fantastic show.