The juddering crunch of psycho-goth band Salem was the aural intro to Riccardo Tisci's latest show for Givenchy. It established a new kind of rhythm for the house, less Catholic, more pagan. The keynote was the leopard, fast cat of the savanna. It infused the collection on every level, from the tone-on-tone dévoré relief on a jacket to the pattern on a floating chiffon overskirt to the exploded graphic on a pair of pants. Nothing says old-school glamour like that particular animal print, but tapping into his inherent Gothicism, Tisci dragged it into the here and now with his elongated riffs on twenty-first-century decadence.
The utter artificiality of his vision loaned the show a powerful single-mindedness. You could attribute it to the fever dream of a kid growing up imagining an unattainable world of richness and beauty—the same dreamy incentive that has driven designers from Balenciaga to Blass and onward. Given that Tisci would now seem to have attained that world, the triumphal tinge of his collections is justifiable. But it's a stark, dark triumph, a fact that was amplified in today's show in the form of the zippers that were used as a decorative element, snaking across and down waistlines, sleeves, and pants. The slightly punky feel of the zips was compounded by bondage flaps and straps.
Leopard and zippers aside, the essence of the collection lay in the long, sheer layers with which Tisci draped almost everything. They added an elusive, spectral volume, the kind which hinted at ghosts. It softened the silhouette, making it more accessible, but that is Tisci's proven recipe: some common-sense commerce here, some wanton creativity there. And no doubt that will be his formula for the future.