Just over a week ago, Riccardo Tisci dazzled the menswear crowd with a lush, colorful show inspired by bird-of-paradise flowers. For his new haute couture collection, it was paradise in general that intrigued him. "Purity, lightness, fragility," was how he summed up his focus. At first glance, this was a much more restrained affair. The ten looks were all white, or very nearly so. But Tisci held nothing back when it came to the handwork.
Months and months in the planning, a long tulle dress was decorated with tiger's-eye pearls that had been inserted with crystals to catch the light and arrayed in the exact same pattern as the marks on an ostrich skin. Another gown was even more painstakingly embroidered with tiny silvery-gray caviar beads. In a callback to his women's ready-to-wear, Tisci paired it with a matching jumper boasting a sheer front panel and beading everywhere else so thick it was 3-D. A third dress, the most expensive and time-consuming to make of all the pieces, was entirely sewn of symmetrically placed hand-cut silk tulle paillettes. The result looked like some sort of exotic fish--in the most flattering possible way.
And, really, that was just the beginning of the embellishments. Hand-curled feathers; plumes so densely embroidered they looked like fur; dégradé beading that not only changed color but also went from shiny to matte—all rewarded the sort of up-close inspection that Tisci has made a point of his Place Vendôme couture installations. At these presentations, every detail, however small, warrants his attention. On the one hand, a fragrance diffuser misted the scent of spring roses through the rooms; and on the other, Popol Vuh, circa Werner Herzog's Aguirre: The Wrath of God, played on the speakers.
Tisci, in other words, hasn't entirely abandoned his dark side, nor lost his taste for provocation. Mingling among all those high-priced embellishments were the oversize plastic zippers that have become a signature of his modern take on the traditional art of custom dressmaking. And don't forget all the flesh laid bare by his cutouts, peekaboo fringe, and tulle. Still, the exquisite technique was the big story here, pointing as it did to the continuing evolution of this designer's unique couture vision.