Long Nguyen is the co-founder and style director of Flaunt.
PARIS–The white neon lights spun faster and faster and the drum beats grew louder and louder in the frigid courtyard of the Lycée Carnot–it was the perfect opening for what was, perhaps, Riccardo Tisci’s finest collection for Givenchy.
It was an ode to the overt sexuality of the 1970’s, particularly Guy Bourdin’s photography. Mr. Tisci opened the show looks that showed off his now renowned rigid tailoring: a black and camel mink coat paired with a leather tank and flared skirt was outstanding.
The Guy Bourdin influence wasn’t quite clear until a series of slip dresses in purple, orange and red embroidered with jet beads walked by. The models wore satin ribbons tied around their necks which added an element sensuality and even hinted at the violence that’s common in Mr. Bourdin’s highly stylized and narrative photographs.
Mr. Tisci’s early obsession with sexuality in terms of religious ecstasy has evolved today into a more human and more overt display of sexual prowess. The leather pieces worn with past-the-elbow length gloves had a dominatrix feel, while a red silk slip dress conveyed an innocent flirty girl, albeit one toughened by the hardness of her equestrian boots.
It was a collection firmly grounded in Mr. Tisci’s signature design elements: tailored coats, fitted jackets, and pleated skirts. He has finally liberated himself from the trappings of his own inspirations that, at times, led to awkwardness. (See: his 80’s inspired first showing for Givenchy in September 2005.) The clothes also demonstrate how successful he is at adapting couture elements to ready–to-wear: there was nothing superfluous.
As is the case for many designers who do both men’s and women’s collections (and in Mr. Tisci’s case, also couture) an idea or a technique often gets filtered from one collection to the next. In this show, these references to his other collections for the label were kept to a minimum. The ear-to-nose minotaur rings which were a prominent feature in the men’s show and even into women’s couture morphed into giant reflective, circular earrings. The symbols of Americana that also dominated the men’s fall show were relegated to a row of stainless steel stars adorning a kimono-sleeve jacket. A remnant of his recent bird of paradise print was still evident on a brown leather spaghetti strap dress.
There was a general feeling of calm and control throughout, despite the rapid pace of the show. After seven years of trial and error, Mr. Tisci has gained a sure footing: he can now let his design talent simply shine through.
Fashion isn’t about being exact or “doing the right thing” but rather about experimenting and taking risks. You try again and again–using different fabrics, altering the cuts, refining the silhouette–until the moment when it works. It’s like a roll of dice: most of the time you don’t get double sixes. But on Sunday night, Mr. Tisci did.