Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt.
PARIS–What is the designer Riccardo Tisci’s mission at Givenchy? Was he hired to create an entirely new brand, or does he have to incorporate some of the house’s heritage into his thinking? Should his collections have something to reminisce the past? Or is it his prime directive simply to follow his instincts and make fashionable clothes destined for those looking for a chic outfit and great shoes?
In the five years since he took over the creative helm at Givenchy, I think it’s clear that Mr, Tisci is choosing to make it an ultra chic fashion brand, one that is respected among high society. And more importantly, a brand that also has street credibility. It’s critical for the designer to appeal to both ends of the spectrum. Too aristocratic and he will be accused of succumbing to the bourgeoisie Too street and they will say he doesn’t understand or fit into a French high fashion house.
That said, the collection he showed late Sunday night–where a black plastic mat with white lines covered the wooden floor of the gymnasium of the Lycée Carnot–was more of an ode to street fashion than clothes that will satisfy the couture set. And in this manner, I think the show pushes the Givenchy label further into the avant-garde realm.
Layering was the dominant cord tying together many vestiges of the collection: a white sleeveless short vest, over a black sleeveless hip length jacket, over a black cropped zippered shirt (worn with a black short skirt and black wool flare pants); a sleeveless leather biker, over a sleeveless leather shirt and sheer chiffon long blouse (worn with white cotton flare slim pants and a white chiffon overlay skirt); a leopard vest, over a leopard blouse (worn with cotton leopard shorts and a leopard chiffon overlay skirt. Well, you get the idea.
Much like his menswear, for which he’s made the skort a Givenchy classic, Mr. Tisci’s resolute vision for his womenswear is garnering similar accolades and followers among younger women who want chic, cool, and sexy clothes but nothing that spells over-the-top sexiness. His pants and skirts with fold-over flaps and his black jackets are quickly becoming Givenchy classics as well. At a recent photoshoot, the R&B multi-platinum singer Ciara told me that his clothes make women feel sexy, but they’re not overtly sexy. That would describe the clothes I saw on Sunday.
On the way to the car at the exit of the show, several colleagues reprimanded me for defending a “bad” collection. Sure, the leopard prints may be a problem, since there were probably more spectators wearing something leopard than outfits shown on the runway. Sure, I have seen many young women in the Lower East Side wearing those sheer silk nylon overlay skirts worn on top of their cut-off shorts. And I did concede that this look–a black sheer chiffon cape over a sheer chiffon and leopard print cut out bustier slip top (worn with black shorts with sheer chiffon pants overlay)–was a mess. But on the whole, there’s something courageous about sticking to one’s own guns and vision rather than changing every time the wind blows in a different direction.