"I wanted to go back to classic ideals of Parisian
elegance," said Julien Macdonald before his debut at
Givenchy. "Everyone remembers Hubert de Givenchy's
distinctive brand of sophistication." Macdonald's mission is to establish a new, commercially viable identity for the famed house while
maintaining a spiritual link to its illustrious past.
The Welsh-born designer took his first, if at times
overly cautious, steps in that direction by tackling
some Givenchy classics, mostly in black. A sheer,
ample-sleeved Bettina blouse (named after Bettina
Graziani, Hubert's model and muse of the late '50s) was
paired with a high-waisted leather skirt that swept
the catwalk with its generous train; a pale-gray
velvet coat was embroidered with sheared mink and
crystal beads; and a tulip skirt got a twety-first-century makeover when worn with a muslin shirt and cigarette pants.
Macdonald indulged his ongoing love
affair with fashion's more dramatic side with several formfitting,
Hollywood-ready gowns that shimmied down to a cascade
of feathers or a shredded hem. A curious eye-popper
came in the form of an extensively ruffled skirt worn
with a transparent net top that fully revealed model
Shalom Harlow's torso but obscured her face.
Givenchy would benefit from a touch that was both
more assertive and light-handed. It will be
interesting to see how Macdonald responds to that challenge
as he settles into his new job.