‘Serenity, sensuality, strength,’ were the words Riccardo Tisci used to sum up his show tonight. He explained that he had been looking back at the Givenchy archive – or rather his archive at Givenchy that he has built over the past eight years at the house.
The venue was Halle Freyssinet, a vast warehouse where guests’ seats were arranged in a large circle, giant stadium lights beaming overhead. And in a far corner, where the models came out, a raised platform for the orchestra, grand piano and Antony Hegarty to sing his heart out.
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’.
‘Sexual, rock and punk,’ is how he described the biker jacket, at the heart of this collection: at first in black velvet with leather ribbing on the shoulders, zipped to one side, echoing its matching pencil skirt. Then he got to work on deconstructing it: the zips became more exaggerated, the jackets had extra sections that peeled open on the waist, or it became a jumpsuit, or a woven leather waistcoat, or came covered in pink peonies.
All the while he built in colour, from vivid red florals to tartan, until the skirts started to burst into life, from restrictive pencils to flamboyant gypsy skirts with frills and tiers of printed chiffon. Then came the most dazzling golden paisleys which announced a shift in silhouette – the fishtail skirt that neatly kicked out below the knee. But it never got predictable, thanks to his injection of urban sportswear: sweatshirts (printed with a kitsch cartoon Bambi or gothic art), his version of an MA-1 flight jacket, the occasional luxury fur bomber jacket or slouchy army-green jumpers that came speckled with sequins.
By the time his last exists, Mariacarla Boscono and Natalia Vodianova came into view, he was in full-on romantic couture mode with long printed, stone-embellished tops and transparent long skirts, their hems embroidered and beaded with floral designs.
It was an epic Givenchy show that took in the full breadth of Tisci’s tenure at the house. Backstage, having kissed everyone from Jessica Chastain to Amanda Seyfried, he simply added: ‘This was one of the most fun collections I’ve ever done.’ We couldn’t agree more.