Long Nguyen is the co-founder and style director of Flaunt.
The orchestrated five-car pile-up, which served as runway scenery at last night's Givenchy show in the Halle Freyssinet, messaged that in the aftermath of destruction, new life arises.
The act of destroying something can be a powerful creative force, like erasing one’s heritage to start afresh. That was what Riccardo Tisci did for Spring 2014, forgoing familiar silhouettes and that fetish cult item—decorated sweatshirts—and instead taking the house in a new, more elegant direction.
The sultry collection was dominated by long dresses—in light light chocolate, burnt orange, black jersey and rust sequins—that were made memorable through elaborate draping, cutting, and tying techniques.
Through his years at Givenchy, Tisci has often infused his collection with different cultural references. He's aware of the global impact of fashion, and of the medium's deep connection with street culture. This season, African dressing and decorative markings served as a leitmotif. There were glass beads applied to some the models’ faces in lieu of actual masks. A rust sequined tank had embroideries that resembled the scarification skin marks widely used in West Africa as a form of marking the body during major moments in an individual's life, or to communicate social and political standings within a tribe. A brown feather poncho replaced wartime battle armor. And colorful striped dresses in green, orange, and cream could have been made from African fabrics.
A standout look from the show was a lone, black crepe strapless jumpsuit that reminded the audience of the designer’s masterful tailoring techniques. The gold and reddish sparkling dress with a rectangular neckline, exposing the length of the model’s torso, was couture in spirit and in execution.
Givenchy's die-hard fans will have to digest the collection to find new icons. Surely a tank embroidered with an African mask motif will be made in numerous commercial variations to satisfy the street tribes.