PFW: GIVENCHY F/W 2014

To whomever or whatever convinced Riccardo Tisci to grow up: Thank you.

I’ll admit that I really did not have high hopes for this Givenchy collection. Recent years under Tisci have seen the brand chasing hip-hop celebrity in an effort to establish some sort of “street cred” and in the process ignored its storied history as a house built on fine luxury women’s wear. Givenchy was once the pinnacle of French fashion, but Tisci’s sweatshirts yanked the label down from that pedestal and through questionable association and pedestrian design drug that name through the dirt. Who wants to see more of that garbage?

Fortunately, Tisci has changed and that change was quite evident in positive tones from the more elegant runway staging of this show down to the precise tailoring of the clothes, which is really what Tisci does best. No gimmicks, for once. No outlandish stage performances. Good, solid fashion.

Butterflies are a common motif for Tisci this season, and perhaps an apt metaphor. Instead of t-shirts, what we get in the first three looks are light, printed layers that could almost be as delicate as a butterfly wing. Suits have overstated masculine tailoring and the bright-colored panels at the pockets are carry-overs from the men’s collection shown a couple of weeks ago. It is in the suits that we really start to get a glimpse of Tisci’s real tailoring talent, but it gets better. As Tisci returns to the butterfly concept for prints, he also sews the wing in panels on lapels and skirts before going completely abstract with the concept. By the time he gets to an oh-so-carefully sewn gown worn by the lovely Jamie Bochert (OUI), the feel is almost that one has become the butterfly ready to flutter off into the bright sunlight.

Along the way, we’re going to notice the creatively strong use of color, not only in the panels on pockets, but in bold bars across the chest and then later at the waist. We’re going to appreciated the fine leather work that really, honestly, should not be mistaken as being “street;” this work is too well done and too refined to be diminished with any colloquialism. Tisci’s use of an exaggerated snake print is also very attractive, though we’ve seen so much snake skin this season that its appearance toward the end of the collection, especially on Joan Smalls (IMG) and Kendall Jenner (Elite), almost seemed to be an aside. One rather got the feeling of, “Oh yeah, I need to toss these two (models and/or designs) in there somewhere.

Curious moments? Yes, they’re here. Models eyebrows were waxed then colored blonde … on everyone. While the visual effect was striking on some, on models such as Joan Smalls it really felt out of place. One may also notice little red squares at the models’ temples. These were the tabs of tape pulling back the skin around the eyes, removing non-existent crows feet; a procedure used on much, much older women looking to retain their youthful beauty. Read into that what you will.

The final look, worn so wonderfully by Mariacarla Boscono (VIVA) uses colored crystals to abstractly mimic the pattern of a butterfly wing over a beautiful black, sheer, pleated skirt. The effect is one of absolute elegance and refinement, finally demonstrating just how strong a designer Tisci can be when he sets his mind to doing so.

We see in this season’s collection a turn back toward the Givenchy elegance that goes with the name. Riccardo Tisci has grown up. Now, if only his celebrity friends and their fans would do the same.

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