On Pier 26 in New York last night, as the sun set on the Hudson river and two beams of light shone in the distance to commemorate the tragic events of 9/11, Ricardo Tisci staged his spring/summer 2016 show for Givenchy. But this was no ordinary fashion show; this was a celebration, of Tisci’s 10th year at the fashion house, of New York City and, perhaps most importantly, of diversity.
Tisci’s model line-up has long been one of the most diverse of fashion week, and this season was no exception. With an extensive set that was staged on several different levels and made from recycled materials, designed in collaboration with the artist Marina Abramović, Tisci showed a whopping 88 looks, including menswear and couture. As well as the suitably A-list line-up sitting on the front row, some of fashion’s biggest names were there to witness the spectacle, including Alexander Wang, Michael Kors, Vera Wang and Joseph Altuzarra.
Tisci’s model army featured all of his biggest muses; Mariacarla Boscono, Raquel Zimmerman, Joan Smalls, Jamie Bochert and, of course, Kendall Jenner. All walked the runway in Tisci’s black and white creations; this collection was a monochromatic exploration of his entire body of work from the last decade. There were silk camisoles with lace edges, kimono jackets, loose tailoring, cut-away slip dresses. As well as all the ready-to-wear pieces, there were couture gowns inspired by past designs; gowns which had never before been seen on actual live models. Joan Smalls wore a black bandeau gown with a dramatic, voluminous skirt, while other dresses skimmed the body and gave way to a cascade of feathers.
The religious undertones usually present in Tisci’s Givenchy collections echoed throughout this offering, both in the clothes and, more explicitly, in the soundtrack, which included six types of religious music culminating in a finale set to Ave Maria. There were bejewelled face masks and elaborate embellishment on jackets, as well as the requisite sheer, body-hugging dresses we’d expect to see on the likes of Beyoncé.
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While there was plenty of skin on show thanks to transparent lace panels, silhouettes which clung to the body and barely-there slips of silk, the collection still managed to exude a purity, a kind of serene delicacy, all the while underpinned by a sense of strength and power. The resulting effect, with the setting playing a particularly big part, was one of poignancy and contemplation.
Givenchy has been credited with single-handedly transforming the humble jumper into a high fashion item (remember those Bambi sweaters?) and its loyal gang of FROW-goers and supporters includes Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and Katy Perry. But even though the usual frenzy ensued as the likes of Julia Roberts, Uma Thurman, Nicki Minaj and Kim and Kanye arrived at the show, the heart and emotion that Tisci clearly poured into the entire concept was the real star. Over 1,000 students were also in attendance, thanks to the show tickets that Givenchy gave away in collaboration with New York City, marking yet another first for the French fashion label.
On such an important day marking 14 years since September 11th, Ricardo Tisci penned a love letter to New York. And what a beautifully written letter it was, too.