"It was such an honor to open back-to-back shows for Givenchy and Riccardo. To be honest, it was a mix of sensations: nerves, happiness, responsibility and adrenaline. Ultimately I enjoyed it a lot and the entire team was incredible to work with."
Antonella Graef on her Givenchy experience
There has always been two realities around the work of Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy. There's is on one hand , the passion of a very insider crowd. You had the editors who whispered in his ear eager to harness the goth-inflected energy of his clothes in their pages.You had the cult stylists who loved cultivating this secret fetish (Hi Panos). And you had the hardcore fashionistas who heedlessly stomped through dank Parisian clubs in Tisci's look-at-me statements even as fashion crticis deemed them "unwearable".
And indeed, on that other hand, there was a kind of critical condescension that murmured after each show " keep trying" "nice guy, very passionate..hopefully it will get there." Well for SS 10 it got there and then some less because Givenchy changed its principles and more because the resisting flank broke down and admitted the aesthetic. The interesting thing about that was how Tisci achieved this breakthrough by rounding up a wide range of themes he had previously explored and re-presented them for an audience that had always been skeptical about those very ideas. If you didn't get it the first time, you got it now because for SS 10 the technique behind the ideas was so precise and rigorous, because the cutting was so maniacal there was finally no ground for condescension.
The other interesting thing to note was how complex these pieces were even as they retained that graphic precision. Looking at a lot of those "directional/big label" shows I noticed there was not a lot of dresses at those brands. T-shirt shapes, yes...dresses that looked like long sweaters...the idea of a short dress.. tops and short skirts and pants...that was there in plentitude at Balenciaga and Balmain. But good old fashioned, highly evolved dressmaking from a young designer...it was masterfully mixed in with the wide variety of retail perfect jackets, pants and short skirts. It made the difference. It is funny to say "young designer" in reference to Tisci since Givenchy is such a big house but apart from the chronological designation "young" also means that that open, refractive point of view that takes into consideration the current rhythms of the real world. I love that Givenchy is not one of those burn-out houses chugging along in hermetic denial of what life in 2009 looks like. I love that the fashion ideal here is not so pedestrain, fast-fashion labels can copy it in 3-seconds flat.
I really admire the way Tisci has stayed true to his tastes as goth-Catholic-Latin--Moroccan as they are, all the way from ready-to-wear to couture to menswear. Those tastes have launched influential haircuts, the fetish for men's leggings and the careers of Iris Strubegger, Lara Stone , Laksmi Menon and Ranya Mordanova . More importantly Givenchy SS09 proves that Fashion with a capitol "F " still has a compelling gravitational pull. It is Old School remixed to the now beat. It is over-the-top and it is a domintarix's restriction. Masculin/feminin..sexy and sinister. It' is clothes you wear and everybody knows who its by. On these pages we've been beating that Givenchy pulse for a while now but who can deny that this show and this casting, in so far as it has the courage to open with an unknown and break up its cabine with the unexpected. In so far as its ad campaign has a legacy of breaking stars Givenchy now looms as THE make or break show on the Paris circuit.