Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt.
PARIS--When Natalia Vodianova emerged on the runway at the Lycée Carnot wearing a nude dropped-lapel sleeveless jacket with a silk collar shirt over "peggings" (that's pant-legging) you could see and feel how couture work has influenced Riccardo Tisci’s clothes in ready-to-wear. Over the past few seasons, he's usually just shown 10 couture looks instead of a show. The smaller scale format has allowed the designer to concentrate on mastering technical skills and adopting new materials not normally used in couture.
This focus on couture permeated last season’s ready-to-wear sculpted jackets and skirts--but back then the loud prints may have obscured the perfect tailoring and craftsmanship of the clothes. Not this season, though, where the predominantly lighter pastel camel, pinks, and whites--with moments of black and sparkling sequins--allowed the audience's eye to focus on the silhouettes. By couture I don’t mean couture in terms of excess embroidery and embellishment, but couture as shown in the influential Madame Grès exhibition this summer at the Bourdelle Museum, where many of the garments shown merged rigid tailoring and fluid movement.
Working around the theme of the sea and a water world, Mr. Tisci’s couture skills helped to create the layers of ruffles which formed a 3-D wave effect on lapels that seemed to move off the body as the models walked by. See, for example, the ivory sleeveless jacket with long lapels and curves around the hip; or the black leather trimmed wave lapel jacket. The tailored and slightly flared jackets and short coats with large lapels re-proportioned to button just below the waist were worn with shorts, peggings or silk striped dresses. And embellishment came in silver ice blue sequins on these spectacular wave-like jacket lapels and matching pants. An off note? I didn’t understand how the three skirts with dangling strings connected by a gold chain around the neck fit into the theme of the show.
In any Givenchy collection, Mr. Tisci always injects an element of subversion, perhaps to prevent the clothes from being too bourgeois. Hence the white suit with sheer skirt showing the outline of a long cotton shirt, or the white striped sheer layered cotton long sleeve top with a crest-shaped skirt cut high and covered with a layer of sheer white silk, intentionally showing the model’s nude underwear.
Regrettably absent from the collection were some of the sportswear elements, like the many versions of sweatshirts and baseball jackets seen in the past few collections that have given street cred to Givenchy. The olive short sleeve polo shirt with brown leopard sleeves or the polo with brown leopard body and olive sleeves remained the only sporty take left in this mostly neutral-toned collection. But, the olive snakeskin jacket, satin shirt and satin hot pants that Gisele Bundchen wore to close the show surely have that street vibe, and was a "wow" way to end this overall superb show.