Nerd Africa? That was Riccardo Tisci's label for his Givenchy collection, though it wasn't the first thing that came to mind when his distinctly un-nerdy warriors had filed off the catwalk. Techno-tribalism maybe; Tisci's prints were based on the technology of sound dissected and reconfigured as tribal patterns. Boom boxes and reel-to-reels and home studios broken down into their component parts, rearranged in a perfectly symmetrical pattern, detailed in bright primary colors—that was Tisci's news for today. The designer works the same silhouettes season after season—formal in precise tailoring, sporty in shorts over leggings with a sweatshirt and/or parka on top—and lets his prints do the heavy lifting for the collection.
No surprises there, because his prints have effectively functioned as Tisci's autobiography up till now. This chapter was all about his shift in affection from Latin America to Africa. He said he loved the freedom of African boys, the way they layered clothes. He was also remembering images of small kids carrying huge boom boxes. But Tisci's tribes were actually a pretty catholic bunch this time round. (That's small "c," by the way, though there was a mention of Jesus in this collection as a reminder that Tisci is the most Catholic of contemporary designers.) All the stripes echoed Africa, but they looked like rugby stripes, too. He also dipped into L.A. skate culture, a recent fascination.
It's all going to make the Tisci tribe even more visible than it already is. Next spring will see streets streaming with striped teens. But that's an upbeat image, just like the collection itself. "It's a love moment," Tisci happily admitted backstage. Yep, love came knocking when he wasn't looking for it—and it couldn't help showing itself on the catwalk.