Heavenly harmony is as rich as it is elaborate. Angels meet birds of paradise to deliver an ethereal collection of femininity.
Riccardo Tisci’s collections for Givenchy plays to a useful duumvirate: Catholicism and animals. His fall 2010 collection, with those symmetrical tresses of fringe recalled horses. His subsequent spring 2010 collection, in the styling at least, brought about a dark lioness sensibility. The fall 2011 menswear line saw the silly, yet fabulous marriage of Rottweiler and high-fashion, while women’s ready-to-wear played with a digital degrade of panther into posies. Judging from his spring 2011 couture showing, last month’s menswear line and now – his ethereal fall 2011 Haute Couture collection, one would venture to say that it is the ‘bird’ that has allowed him to go into the light after years of striking the dark provocateur note that has carried Givenchy since his tenure. At first it was the Japanese totemic crane that gave sway to a lighter femininity at the French house – now it is the mythological and real Bird of Paradise that has brought this Dante Alighieri of fashion from the Inferno and Purgatorio he’s ruminated in for so long into the true Holy Empyrean.
It’s as if the angels had an atelier in the clouds. With such a strict colour palette – white, ecru, cream, chalk, beige, light gold – the marvels have to linger in the details. Underneath the blanched exterior is a veritable pantheon of architectural material – Chantilly lace, airy feathers, gauzy silk tulle, downy raw cashmere, diaphanous organza – all this contrasted with pony skin, nappa leather, metal chains, cotton macramé lace, white beads, reflecting pearls. The closer look leaves the mind reeling.
Tisci is in love with his sheer tulle skirts. He’s reworked them here again, as well as the bodysuit under the sheer overlay that worked to such covetous and carnal effect at his Resort 2011 presentation. But it’s purity that Tisci wanted to spotlight this time. Those same sheer skirts were gingerly, but meticulously encrusted in crystals and tiger’s eye. Bodices were so heavily embellished, encrusted even, that they looked like a second-skin or armour. Although purity is at the forefront of this collection, it by no means implies that sensuality is out the window. Consider the gilded sheer gown donned by Izabel Goulart. Having at least one gown with uncompromising breast exposure seems to be a newly acquired leitmotif of Tisci’s. It’s how the angels are dressing these days.