Finally, Riccardo Tisci got up on a runway and did what legions of frustrated editors have been willing him to do for ages: present a collection that put his talent properly and clearly on display for the first time. Not that buyers are disbelievers, or that women haven't run into Tisci's exceptional crisp blouses, sharp jackets, and subtly cut dresses in stores and been pleasantly shocked to find the label inside reads "Givenchy." It's just that until now, somethingperhaps trying too hard for concept or atmospherehas always scuppered the appeal on the catwalk.
This season, Tisci got it all under control, and at just the moment to take advantage of the fact that fashion is turning in the direction of his kind of dark, romantic, faintly goth aesthetic. Those on the hunt for new tailoringsomething beyond a predictable blazerwill salivate over his black pantsuits and cropped toreador jackets, and the way he showed them with a hugely wantable variety of frothy blouses, from crisp white cottons to fragile, frilled plissé chiffons. Not to mention the slick black patent wedge boots with their tab-and-Velcro fastenings. Or the singular shiny leather puffer that made urban utility look chic again.
"I've been traveling in South America, and I discovered a romantic sensuality and elegance there I really identified with as a Catholic," said Tisci by way of explanation. The Hispanic influence became more obvious in the black lace and flamenco/matador touches later in the show, but (huge relief) the sense of modernity didn't end up sacrificed on the altar of theme. Where Tisci did ruffles and folkloric wool lace, it was often (and best) in chopped-up abstract appliqués on jackets and coats. Give or take a gold leather bubble dress and a slightly dubious revival of stretch pants, this collection finally shifted Tisci out of the "promising" category into a place where he deserves to be seen as a designer who has come of age.