At some shows in Paris, the seating arrangements are so cramped that you can physically feel the audience reaction in the body language running along a bench. At Givenchy, there was no possible doubt about what it was. From the very first look out—a geometrically striped black and white jersey jacket over a graphic, lozenge-fronted top and draped pants—everyone was on high alert, jostling and craning for the best possible view.
Indisputably, Riccardo Tisci has moved up to the elite group of designers who matter most in Paris. His work has editors pining to buy and rock stars' stylists competing for first dibs—and for Spring, that heat's only going to intensify. What he sent out was a fusion of Arabic influences, goddesslike draping, and, according to the program notes, the results of his new research into sixties Roman couture. If that sounds like nonsense on paper, in fact almost every garment had an intensity of proportion and detail that looked incredible: the graphic jackets; tiny kilts; attenuated drop-crotch harem pants; cool, multilayered, modernized tutus; and draped, wrapped, and swathed tulle dresses.
Travel influences often lead to banality, but Tisci's referencing of the kaffiyeh scarf was pushed into allover digital patterns in ways that almost took it into the realm of zigzagging psychedelia. The prints covered blouses, jackets, kilts, leggings, platform wedges, and bags. The silhouette, with its slightly raised waistline, had the effect of making the models look even taller and more impossibly leggy—the drama enhanced by the high, wrapped, wedge-heel boots. For day, the bondage-y footwear came in leather; at night, with the goddess dresses, it was smothered in white tulle.
This highly resolved series of looks could only have come about because of Tisci's experience in Givenchy's haute couture. If that sounds high-flown, it is, in a way—but the cleverness is that everything he's doing now has the heartbeat of youth. Even better: Tisci may be the rock world's new dream couturier, but in retail that also translates into accessible, surprising pieces that sell out the minute they hit stores.