Fashion empowers. Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci loved basketball when he was a child. Decades later, when success as a designer had opened doors for him, he was able to learn about a dozen new worlds. The lines on a basketball court; the lines of the Bauhaus; epochal twentieth-century design movement: past, present, future gracefully eliding on a catwalk in Paris in a collection of clothes for men on January 17, 2014. Sound portentous? Well, Tisci has a habit of bringing that out in people, such is the nature of his grandiose presentations.
Today's was centered on a basketball court whose markings were picked out in neon. The models walked with hair slicked to their heads, which were wrapped tightly in nets. They looked like members of a Latino gang. But, insisted Tisci, that was how a gentleman in the twenties, contemporaneous with the Bauhaus, would have preserved his look when he slept, and gang members were simply borrowing from that tradition. A delightful notion indeed, especially when it was hardly bygone male beauty regimens that dictated the tone of the collection.
Rather, it was a casual new take on
tailoring—trousers looser, puddling at the ankle; jackets elongated, coat-length to create a new suit—and an abstract approach to graphics. If his rottweilers and Madonnas have made Tisci one of the most identifiable, and copied, designers in the world over the past few years, here he shelved the figurative in favor of swooshes of paint and linear Bauhaus-influenced strands of color. He also defined the line of garments with zippers. That won't put the fakers off for long, but today, in this moment, Givenchy had an elegant severity that underscored Tisci's role in turning the sweatshirt into this season's high-fashion essential.