From Marc Jacobs in New York to Phoebe Philo’s sophomore go at Celine in Paris, the collections have been scaling back to sportswear. So when Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci opened his show with a series of spare, boxy coats in neutrals and black, the assumption was that fashion’s Goth showman was jumping on the bandwagon, too. Well, yes and no. Fall saw a cleaner, relatively pared-down, side of Tisci but offered no shortage of high-minded intrigue — the lapels that disappeared into those coats, for instance. It made for a strong and confident outing, one that worked a nice tension between sex appeal and sleek sportif.
Ski and scuba uniforms provided the core vocabulary throughout, with the runway narrative described in the show notes as “a journey from the mountains to the sea.” The graphic Fair Isle knits — one of the highlights of the show, rendered in taut, tight-to-the-body sweaters — undoubtedly glanced at the slope life, but, as for the rest, it was hard to decipher exactly where one inspiration began and the other ended. The slim pants and skirts, unzipped and unfurled at the waist, referenced scuba gear for some, Seventies ski outfits for others. And that two-flap motif offered more than just sculptural curiosity (alluring on a satin and black velvet dress; complicated when applied to a turtleneck sweater) — it also hinted at a mood of perverse sexuality.
The velvet choker necklaces, at times in thin slits of red at the throat, added to that vibe. By night, the seduction continued, with sheer lace inserts and panels on dresses and gowns, some fluffed up with wispy feathers; the finale plumed top, meanwhile, came with a sheer flyaway back trailing behind. The effect was entrancing.