Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Givenchy Spring 2013

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Photo: Monica Feudi/

“Pure and light,” said Riccardo Tiscibackstage at his transcendently chic and controlled Givenchy show. “I went back to the roots of the house,” he explained, “and worked on the sixties of Hubert [de Givenchy]—which was the best period for me.” To this, Tisci added his passion for the furniture designs of the enigmatic creative force Carlo Mollino—“the geometry and the lightness of the shapes in wood and the metal”—and blended in the sobriety of nuns’ habits. 

Tisci’s girls, with their hair scraped into tight balletic chignons, and beige eye shadow painted into exaggerated Cleopatra points, moved at a lightning pace on Mollino-inspired shoes with conical heels of wood and metal, anchored with broad straps of clear plastic. The clothes, in a rigorous palette of monastic black and white with touches of light sky blue and pale beige, were mostly lean and tubular, with the emphasis on a dropped waistline.

Givenchy’s own mentor, Cristobal Balenciaga, famously told him that “a ruffle must be intelligent,” and Tisci in turn has absorbed that cryptic mantra, setting controlled flounces to outline the sleeve or neckline to relieve the severity of his lean tunic dresses. Many of these had apron fronts and flying panels in the back, resembling a nun’s scapular, anchored into place with metallic bar clips; sometimes they were layered over narrow pants. Chokers of clear plastic or wood, edged in gleaming metal, suggested clerical collars.

The monastic atmosphere was heightened by Tomaso Albinoni’s eighteenth-century “Adagio in G Minor,” (played by Mathias Lecomte on the giant organ that dominated the center of the runway), but in the DJ booth, Discodromo mixed a pulsing techno beat—an example of Tisci’s ability to sample from the past but bring those influences firmly into the present and the future.

Tisci’s research in the Givenchy archives provided echoes of some of Hubert’s most hieratic creations, and the luxurious fabrics the couturier used in the sixties—heavy silk crepes, satins, and thickly textured matelasse damasks, contrasted with airy materials with architectural body to them, including satin organza, gazar, and thick guipure lace. But this wasn’t an exercise in nostalgia, or the thoughtless revisiting of the past that some designers have fallen prey to this season. Instead, Tisci filtered those elements through his own entirely contemporary sensibility and the result was a standout collection that exemplified a new modern way to approach that old-fashioned notion of “elegance.”

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