There was no way this show wasn’t going to be big; possibly the biggest spectacle to hit New York Fashion Week this season. First, Givenchy is opening a new store here, a presence they’ve not had since 2006. That alone is big news. Second, creative director Ricardo Tisci decides, at least for this season, to move the label’s popular runway presentation from Paris to NY for the first time ever. Next, Tisci brings in performance artist Marina Abramović to set the aesthetic for the show. Had Tisci stopped right there, he would have topped anything else we’re likely to see here this week. But no, he keeps going and opens the gateway to hallowed ground by inviting non-fashion people to attend, bringing in an additional 1,200 souls to the already packed array of buyers, editors, and celebrities. Traffic on the West side is still a mess even as I’m writing this. Hope no one actually thinks they’re hailing a cab in this chaos.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention all the live streaming. There’s no way to know exactly how many eyeballs watched at least a portion of the show that streamed to huge jumbotrons in Manhattan, as well as locations in London, Paris, Milan, and other select cities around the world. This is certainly, even without exact totals, the most watched fashion show in history. Ricardo Tisci has pulled off a PR coup.
If you watched any portion of the show, and I’m just going to assume that you did, you already know that the collection is void of color. While there is some variation in the tone of white depending on fabric, it’s reasonable to just call this a black and white collection full of silk and satin and lace and be done with it. Gone were the facial modifications on every model, but there were still a couple and those were over the top. Also present were some beautiful and carefully carved paper lace masks which, should they catch on, just might bring back the masquerade ball concept. The collection was huge, both women’s wear and menswear was shown, and the parade of models seemed as though it would never end.
However, actually being there was a slightly different experience from watching the feed in the comfort of your own home or office or corner booth of a bar. If you were watching the stream in a relatively quiet place, you could actually hear all the nuances and softer tones of the music being played live, rather than losing certain sounds on a gust of wind, or the crackle of a speaker, or because the person behind you just couldn’t keep his big mouth shut (pedestrians, ugh). You also missed the joy of sitting in traffic, perhaps finally giving up and walking the last mile to the docks, arriving out-of-breath and perspiring, shown to a seat on a rough, wooden bench, sandwiched in with hordes of others who were also perspiring. You then didn’t begin to feel a chill as the sun went down and the wind came off the water. You weren’t wishing you’d thought to bring a sweater or a jacket with you.
If you were watching at home, you also didn’t have that lovely Hudson River fragrance of rotting fish mixed with rotting sewage on top of rotting hazardous waste. Sure, they’ve cleaned the river up (cough, cough), but that smell has a half-life that will last for at least another hundred and fifty years. You didn’t have the secondary soundtrack of birds making their final calls for the night against the perpetual hum and honking of New York traffic punctuated with the inevitable sirens. You didn’t have the option of grabbing a chili dog from the guy on the corner across the street as you left. And even though cameras tried to catch it a few times, you couldn’t see the light blazing skyward from Ground Zero.
In short, the streaming experience was tremendously different from actually being there, almost to the point of being a very different show.
I’m sure Tisci learned a couple of lessons tonight. First, no matter how long you wait to start, you don’t pull off a big show on the docks without causing traffic problems on West Street and the Greenway. I’ve not seen an official traffic report, I’m afraid to look, but I’m willing to bet that traffic was backed up as far North as Riverside, or at least as far as Lincoln Tunnel. Second, if you’re going to leave models’ shoes untied, tuck the damn strings somewhere. The were two spectacular falls, one over the wood steps (which could have been much worse than it was), and one on the concrete, in addition to numerous bobbles and shakes the cameras didn’t catch. Not cool, Ricardo, not cool.
Ask anyone there what their favorite piece was and they’ll probably have to make something up. We know it was all black and white and there were face coverings. Say something about a lace top with the loose black pants and you’re covered. The clothes were little more than an excuse for the spectacle and, in this particular case, that’s fine. Givenchy is opening a store on Madison Avenue. When the clothes hit the store next spring, everyone will go, “Oh, I remember that from the show.” They’ll be lying. Be nice and don’t say anything.
But hey, we’ll all remember the “good time” we had tonight. Right, Ricardo?