You knew you were in for something different from Riccardo Tisci when you saw the runway. For the past two seasons, the models seemed miles away from the front row as they did their loops around the Halle Freyssinet. Tonight you could reach out and touch them as they breezed past you down the carpeted catwalk. The intimate setting suited his new direction: The man who gave the world the designer sweatshirt has grown up. This was a very womanly, very French collection, and it was just as convincing as when Tisci was looking at the street. "This time it was about celebrating elegance and bon ton," he said backstage. "My own bon ton, of course."
The trio of dresses that opened the Givenchy show cued the new mood: softly printed, just sheer enough to offer a glimpse of a bra underneath, and worn with black stockings and strappy heels. Tisci's ladies were not quite models of decorum, as would become clear as the show progressed and the animal prints got bolder and more colorful. By the end, the butterfly intarsia on Jamie Bochert's gown was so magnified it was essentially abstract—fierce and wild. Tisci's pretty is laced with plenty of sex—the show had the erotic charge of a Carlo Mollino photograph.
But for every pussy-bow blouse and dress, there was also a powerfully cut suit. Tisci's avant-garde tendencies have held the spotlight in the past, but tailoring just may be what he's best at. His pants this season are high-waisted and full through the leg with the graphic Bauhaus-inspired banding at the pockets that he used in his men's collection in January. The new jacket is cropped and boxy. Three sharp outfits in glossy brown leather trimmed in fur suggested he still has his eye on the street, but the overwhelming impression here was one of sophisticated luxury. See the leopard-spot coat edged in beaver and astrakhan, or the blush-pink fox with the metal grommets. Fur even featured on some of the evening pieces, others of which combined simple pleated black skirts with densely beaded sleeveless bodices.