Haute Couture A/W '11 Report: GIVENCHY by Riccardo Tisci

06 July 2011

I miss Givenchy on the couture catwalk. Riccardo Tisci is one of the most talented designers at work in Paris and his ready to wear show is one of the hottest tickets in town. But for the couture he chooses to show ten looks on mannequins in a chic townhouse on Place Vendome.

It may sound like a compromise, but while a Givenchy couture show would certainly be a highlight, getting up close to the clothes on static display gives everyone a chance to appreciate workmanship that just boggles the imagination.

Hundreds of hours go into the simplest pieces. The entire collection must easily have stretched to thousands of man hours and not just any old men (or women), but highly trained ones with years of experience and honed expertise.

A gown of bias cut tulle was sprinkled with hundreds of tiny pearls. A high necked dress looking like it was dip dyed from pale yellow to cream was actually embroidered with thousands of tiny beads, breaking onto delicate lace. A frothy bodice might have been lace but was actually embroidered with curled goose feathers and trimmed with pony skin. A whisp of a white dress was embroidered with tiers of ostrich giving the effect of tiny wings at the back.

If the heavens find themselves short of angel costumes, I nominate Tisci for the task. But his master-stroke is how skillfully he rescues these visions of feather and fringed lace and tulle from saccharine sweetness with trims of leather and pony and utilitarian zips sculpting the back and the armholes of detachable sleeves. It reminded me of the brace that the artist Frida Kahlo had to wear over her prettiest dresses to support her injured back. It’s the perfect balance of softness and strength. Running through Tisci’s celestial vision is the spirit of thoroughly modern couture.

- Paula Reed in Paris


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