paris fashion week: givenchy

(images via style)

do you know why i love some of these lesser well-known fashion week so? i mean, sure, there’s the thrill of finding beautiful clothes, exciting new designers one hasn’t yet encountered, and even the smugness in feeling as though we’re first to grab onto something. but! there’s another factor! it’s that i often wonder, whatever they claim to be unaware of basically anyone else (save maybe their celebrity muses, of course), that behind all of this stuff and nonsense, they’re actually looking at these smaller, more obscure labels for ideas.

this is a fact i think i’ve documented/argued at length in the case of gloria coelho/balenciaga, and there have been a slew of other times, big and small, notable and not so, that i’ve mentioned, and in this case, it’s probably the latter, but i still think it’s interesting for a couple of reasons. anyway, back during the s/s 2011 season (a full year before anyone was doing it!), ukrainian designer alexey zalevskiy presented a flapper collection in kiev. okay, no one minded, but suddenly when it was all over paris a short time later…(and yeah, i know he can’t get credit for the whole thing, but just imagine if he was karl lagerfeld or phoebe philo and i think you’ll get a taste of my point).

anyway, during that very same collection, he gave his models rather outlandish, grassy-green wigs that looked as though they’d been constructed out of play-doh, with thick finger waves in curvy, sausage-link chunks, which were oddly fascinating, and one of those things that shouldn’t have worked, but somehow…did. anyway, some two and a half years later, enter the givenchy a/w 2013 show at paris fashion week and, lo and behold, (they’re different colours this time, blue, cherry, bubblegum, grape, and tangerine, and–perhaps significantly–featuring no green). so! what do we make of it?

perhaps nothing, and probably i’m just a loud-mouthed conspiracy theorist–i usually am–but on the other hand, i think it’s worthy of note. after all, in all of these seasons (see a/w 2010, resort 2011, s/s 2011, a/w 2011, s/s 2012, pre-fall 2012, a/w 2012, s/s 2013, pre-fall 2013), we’ve heard nothing but praise for the ppr-backed label, and its designer, one happy serial killer riccardo tisci, but i’ve always been rather skeptical, not only because i think his work is a faaaar cry from the house hubert de givenchy set up, but for reasons like these. i’m convinced these kids borrow more than they’d ever give credit for!

but alas, i suppose it doesn’t matter, because at the end of the day, there are kids willing to buy anything from givenchy, even when it’s ridiculous as a rottweiler shirt you could probably borrow from the dirtiest kid in your second grade class (yes, really, much like that similar balenciaga shirt, here i remain unconvinced that homeboy wasn’t messing with the fashionies, playing them like the proverbial fiddles), so in the case where he actually makes some good clothes, you can just imagine the cash influx. and really, there are many, many good things he makes. bambi sweatshirts aside (what is it with this dude??), beeyotch.

on the subject of designer/classic cartoon character fodder, i believe i addressed everything i need to with the marc jacobs s/s 2013 show, or maybe the general subject chez balenciaga a/w 2012, but i think i’ve been snappy enough, and anyway, we need to move on to actually addressing the collection at hand, which–besides those few reservations–i really did like. those fiery explosions of golden-orange swirling paisley set against black backgrounds were particularly striking, and i’m always down for those layered, lacy black confections featuring lots of tulle and victorian nostalgia.

but i’ve held them off long enough, and now the critics are beating me senseless they’re so desperate to get it, so now they’re just running away with it. “No one is more responsible for fashion’s current fixation on the sweatshirt than Tisci,” prattled style, and “he opened with a new one, its front emblazoned with Bambi, more Disney-cute than his previous prints. A grunge element came through in plaids and leathers, and oversize sweaters got a fair share of his attention, too…As boyish as the sweatshirt is, one of Tisci’s big ideas this season put the accent on the feminine. A significant number of the looks were cinched at the waist with Perfectos whose tops had been shorn off—glorified belts, really, that created a provocative, peplumed silhouette.”

meanwhile, the daily beast shrieked that “(t)his was a heartbreaking, and ultra feminine collection (particular for Tisci) and although his tougher trademarks were there — the sweatshirts (this season it was a Disney print of Bambi) and the requisite leather — the highlight of the collection was the chiffon, ruffled skirts that swirled around the ankles of the models as they stormed the runway. There was a lot of black (what would a Givenchy collection be without black?), but there were also rich, warm colours of red and orange, and a mash up of plaid and floral prints.”

and elsewhere, fab sugar fawned that “Riccardo Tisci sent out long sheer skirts, trimmed with embellishments, then topped them with tougher (and sometimes sparkly) knits. Long gone are the Rottweiler prints, now replaced by sweeter Bambi-printed sweatshirts. Zippered layers were styled with ruffled leather midi-length skirts, hints of rose prints and plaid were scattered throughout, and the outerwear showcased toggle-front detailing and wide waist-cinching belts. Meanwhile, the shoes — midcalf boots with bold stripes — and rosebud hair caps rounded out each model’s look with equal parts softness and structure.”

“Tisci opened the show with long sweatshirts with designs that ran the gamut from a saccharine Bambi-esque cartoon deer to thirties portraits of Romany beauties to a menacing shark’s jaw, cinched at the waist over a tube skirt of spangled dark mesh,” trilled us vogue. “For romantic modern evenings, those sweatshirts in lace or sheer black chiffon, veiling an image of massed rosebuds beneath, could be worn with insouciant elegance over a pale net skirt appliquéd with cutouts from prints of pansies or blooms.”

then, grazia warbled that “(t)he silhouette was clearly indebted in places to the mid-Nineties – think tiny jackets with wasp waists and high sharp shoulders and a skirt tight to the knee then kicking to mid calf – but then softened into Romany inspired ruffled chiffon dresses embroidered with crystals and stars…this was as touching as it was clearly heart-felt. Tisci grew up with no less that eight sisters and a working mother – his father died when he was very young – and his emotional attachment to the fairer sex has rarely been so openly expressed. Experiences as moving as this one in contemporary fashion are few and far between.”

“Certainly he had a firm grasp of the Givenchy woman, a layered personality with plenty of grit,” reflected the nyt‘s eric wilson. “The dusky floral and paisley prints, and the flounced skirts tinged with blood red, were gypsy references that have surfaced in Mr. Tisci’s designs before, but rarely with such harmony. Some of the outfits came with a leather piece that looked like a biker jacket stripped of shoulders and sleeves, and converted into a zippered corset, which peeled away from the body. It teased with the idea of texture and deconstruction — and it was also a tease. I also liked the surprising use of boyish plaid in the midst of all those flounces and Victorian looking florals.”

and wwd commented that “Tisci mashed up grungy plaid and rose print on shirts. He trimmed long gypsy skirts in zippers and sliced them up the thigh. Basques that were similar to puffer jackets were affixed around the waists of many looks emphasizing the waist. This reinforced the romantic, womanly nature of the collection without diluting its edge. A few of the most stunning looks came at the end: boyfriend sweaters, some studded with shiny polka dots, worn over long fluted skirts. Natalia Vodianova was the last exit out. Her legs…were visible through the mostly sheer tulle skirt trimmed at the hem in sequined roses — a new and truly daring proposition for evening.”

then, elle described how “Tisci may have been looking back, but this felt like a massive departure. His woman had moved on, away from the controlled minimalist, to someone freer, more exuberant, romantic yet downright sexy. And, boy, did she look good. From her tightly pin-curled hair caked in pink, purple or orange, courtesy of Luigi Murenu, to the clothes themselves that, in Tisci’s words, married ‘street with couture’.” oh, sigh. the fashiones will never shut up on that one, right?

anyway. according to uk vogue, “(s)weatshirts featured Bambi and shark jaws motifs and patchworks, and came belted, long sheer skirts trailing below – while more biker jackets and bombers were teamed with flamenco ruffles of skirts in shades of autumn leaves…Toggle coats, too, gave a grounding to the collection – all the pieces in it wearable, humble even, items but reinvented in the most articulate way to once again convey Tisci’s pure vision and his ability to make everything he touches beautiful. But it wasn’t beautiful in the sense that it was pretty, for these clothes came with serious gusto and had something punky about them too.”

“Mr. Tisci crammed in many things,” reflected suzy menkes of the iht, in a review i’m still not sure about (whether it was positive or negative, that is), “from paisley prints in flame colors for a straight skirt with just a kick of a frill above the snaky patchwork calf-high boots. Or just a sweater and a long chiffon skirt. But each piece had a message that the designer has reiterated since being named the house designer in 2005: a dual male/female sexuality with a hard undercurrent. But this time the collection was an homage not to the tough but to the tender.”

and the telegraph stated that “(i)f the underlying message is that a woman should have the right to dress like a vamp and not be jumped on then, yes, hallelujah, let’s all buy into that. But why link it to the rape of poor old Mother Earth, especially when there is nothing discernibly eco-friendly going on here. But maybe this is to read too much into a patchwork bomber – although beard-stroky pondering is precisely what Tisci’s presentation style seems to demand.”

yet–finally–it was the la times‘ review which was surprisingly the most compelling, ultimately offering that “(a)s heartfelt as Antony’s ode to women seemed to be, there was a disconnect between the sentimentality and the clothes coming down the runway. While there were certainly lovely riffs on the well-worn gypsy theme here, mixed with the streetwise luxe biker jackets and sweat shirts that have made him such a celebrity favorite, there was nothing particularly empowering about these clothes when it came to helping a real woman solve the problem of what to wear to the office.” hallelujah! i love it. we have a winner!

(watch the complete catwalk show in action here)

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