Riccardo Tisci won't be presenting a couture collection for Givenchy next week. "So I wanted to make a much more couture collection for menswear," he said after his presentation tonight. There was an ulterior motive. Much as he loves seeing people around the world in the Givenchy tees and sweatshirts that have become a virtual uniform for Kids Today, he was keen to challenge himself—and them—by offering something more chic, more…well, couture-ish. And there it was, in experimental new cuts, collarless and lapel-less, and in a new depth of fabrication. For instance, the signature printed tees now came in cashmere, velvet, taffeta, or leather rather than the usual jersey.
The collection was Tisci's love letter to the U.S.A. "I've been obsessed with America since I was a kid," he explained. "It's the typical Italian dream of someone who wants to be somebody." But it wasn't the typical America he celebrated. Two concentric circles of candles had a distinctly occult vibe. ("A séance or an exorcism," suggested DJ Honey Dijon.) The show had barely begun when a pentagram appeared on an argyle cashmere vest. It signposted the show's presiding spirit, the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, whose work is one of Tisci's longtime passions. His monochrome signature echoed throughout in images of flowers, neoclassical statuary, the Stars and Stripes, and, always, sex. "Everything related to America but in a very dark way," said Tisci. "This is the dark side of my personality." Last season, he was on the side of the angels. This time round, it was the devil's turn.
He's always used sports references. Here there were gridiron jackets that looked as stitched together as Frankenstein's monster. Such was the shadowy suggestiveness of Tisci's designs that even something as normally benign as the parka knotted round the waist of one black-leather-shirt-and-shorts-clad model took on a sinister import. "Sinister" also suited a leather-patched duffel in a glazed charcoal tweed, a leather-chested blouson whose seams were articulated with big silver zips…in fact, the adjective seemed appropriate for the provocatively overwrought tone of the entire collection. Tisci was pushing hard, maybe too hard. But too much has never been enough for him. Can he keep it up?