Givenchy Fall 2012 Haute Couture Collection

by Alexander Patino

Riccardo Tisci relayed all the Christian verve he could muster for the stellar menswear collection he delivered last week, but not all of his signature darkness. For his ten-look couture collection, he went pagan. Inspired by the clean lines of Hubert de Givenchy’s 60s dresses and the bohemes of modern-day southern Italy, aesthetically, this haute capsule asks for no leniency from its public – it’s severe, for sure, or in layman’s terms – a lot of look, but the craft has never looked more sublime. In truth, this is an Italian tree-hugger only Tisci could fashion into real world existence.

The first look, a sweater encrusted in ombre beads that transitioned from au-lait, to coffee, ending in witch cauldron black at the bottom, with Tisci’s signature torero shoulders, will be the accessible hot ticket in the line-up. Imagining it in the streets would be no stretch. On the other hand, an obsessively grommeted gown with floor-length black nappa fringe extended through the bias may not fare so well, as dazzling as it is. It came with an arrowhead shaped frontispiece and a prism/sword-like extension driven down the back. The same two shapes followed in a black and scarlet woven pattern on the cape that followed. And the heavy use of hand-stitched bands of nappa hardly ended with that formative number. The entire back of a dress, save for a slice of shoulder, was a veritable downpour of dark fringe.

The heavy encrustations of bead-work keep the Givenchy atelier busy. Thousands of hours of hand work must have gone into a blood red geometric mosaic of stones that ran down the back of a floor-length coat with fur plankets. The effect of that pattern played to a more dazzling effect on a sister-piece, another floor-length coat with a huge cut-out scoop on the lower back, revealing the embroidery on the dress below that continued the stone patterns on the coat above. That scoop motif was questionable at moments when he first introduced it with his sharks and mermaids ready-to-wear a few seasons back, but felt far more welcomed and refined here.

For those who prefer their Givenchy couture with more beauty than brains, a black halter dress with a built-in cape was sensuality incarnate, thanks to that completely naked back – and insidiously opulent too, given that the cape was lined in thousands of hand-stitched sequins. A mocha gown with batwing sleeves should  also fit the bill more than nicely. But while that black halter was all beauty all the way, the undulating embroidery around this piece’s waistline, with long matching tassels extending from the hips all along the back, was the perfect demonstration of equally mixed grace and brawn.