PARIS, France — “I’ve always loved labyrinths.” How’s that for a psychologically loaded statement? Riccardo Tisci was actually talking about the set for his Givenchy show on Sunday night, a wooden maze that foxed some of the young models, but the clothes he showed were similarly intricate.
He claimed that this season he’d looked back several millennia to Ancient Egypt for inspiration. “The beginning of everything,” he called it. In switching his usual Catholic scenario for a dose of the Old Gods, Tisci got himself a new icon — the Eye of Horus instead of the Holy Cross — but Nefertiti wouldn’t have recognised much else in his collection.
The Egypt of the Pharaohs featured more as an Art Deco influence, in much the same way that the Egyptomania that swept the West after King Tut’s tomb was discovered in 1922 influenced Art Deco itself. The Chrysler Building, Art Deco’s architectural masterpiece, was echoed in the symmetrical patterns on metallic leather jackets as shiny scarab wings, on shoe heels, in the engineered prints on silk shifts.
But why stop there? Tisci also referenced other ancient cultures — American Indian art, Hindu mandalas — in his riot of pattern. And the oldest kingdom of all — the animal kingdom — contributed leopard and ocelot spots, “because,” said Tisci, “animals were so important in Egyptian culture.” And that was our history lesson for the day.
There was another of the season’s stories bubbling under Givenchy’s mystic jumble — good old glam rock. The goodtime girls from whom Tisci draws his real inspiration will love the metallic leathers and the slinky python, for sure. The cropped animal-print bombers looked a cert too, especially over a short skirt made up of dozens of fluttering silk fans. They might even redeem the black velvet shorts. But something funny happened on the way to the Pyramids. That black started looking very good again. A simple velvet sheath, cuffed in black fur was a breath of refreshing night air.