My heart always sinks a bit when a fashion show is replaced with a presentation. Nothing beats seeing the clothes on a body. But the Givenchy Haute Couture by Riccardo Tisci show, presented in the incredible oriental rooms of the Hotel d'Avreux may have changed my mind forever on the subject.
When you get right up close to work like this you get why an embroidered dress could have 1400 hours of work in it and why an evening gown could be four or five times the average annual UK salary. You may not be able to visualise the lives these dresses are made for, but it's impossible not to be in awe of the people who made them.
The ten Givenchy Haute Couture by Riccardo Tisci looks may have made for a very succinct collection but it was perfectly formed. The 18th century rooms with their hand painted wall paper and huge chandeliers had metal cage constructions erected within them from which the outfits were hanging on headless body forms. The inspiration was the artist Frida Kahlo and the Mexican festival of the dead: a perfect combination of the baroque and the gothic to suit designer Riccardo Tisci's taste.
Each room had a different theme. The Porcelain Room was hung with all white dresses and jackets worked with 3D embroidery creating sculptural shapes. A pair of lace tights had the Dia De Los Muertos iconic skeleton structure woven into the delicate fabric. A corset belt was studded with alabaster pearls held fast in silver settings.
In many of the looks, a crucifix was worked into the silhouette: cut into the panels of a leather coat or just visible from a certain distance in the embroidery on a dress. A nude coloured Butterfly dress was a mind boggling exercise in symmetry balancing tiers of silk fringe.
The finale Gold Room would challenge the most exuberant taste with metallic embroidered fish tail dresses that, at a guess, had to weigh 30 kg. Talk about designing for strong women!
An alabaster embroidered corset or gold dress may be beyond most of us, but I am hoping the jewellery trickles down to the ready to wear. Riccardo says they can be vertebrae or orchids depending on your mood. Today, they were definitely orchids.
By Paula Reed