A killer creative instinct has put Riccardo Tisci at the top of hisgame. His last show was a blockbuster. His influence continues to seeponto the runways of others and has trickled down to the mainstream — seethe explosion of designer sweatshirts and bomber jackets everywhere.Maintaining that level of intrigue and celebration takes more thancommercial hits and insider hype; self-awareness is crucial.

“I’mnot saying leave it, but I want to move on from the print, which is asuccess. I want to just explore a new world,” Tisci said backstage afterhis spectacular spring show, which featured virtually no prints — noBambi, no panthers — nor a single sweatshirt. For his new direction, hesummoned his fascination with Japanese and African cultures,intertwining their indigenous traditions of dress for a collection thatpulsed with elegant female power.

It started off on a quiet,natural note with a bare-faced, dark-haired model in a tawny drapedjersey dress with a pleated harness neckline and a sporty, elasticdetail at the waist. Tisci built on the sultry draping, enhancing withwoven leather harnesses, layering in silk tailoring with a soft kimonoinfluence, and coursing through a rich, earthy palette of oranges,taupes, red, black and navy. All of the models wore flat sandals, andsome had their faces painted like colorful sequined masks to underscorethe ongoing tribal sensibility, which was handled with the utmostmodernity. It came in evocative draping, Masai-like corded details andraw, feathered capes. It showed through, too, in the exquisite finale: aseries of glamour goddess gowns cut with wide strips over the breasts,and a skirt of sunburst pleats that opened into a rainbow of graphicsequins.

Tisci showed it all in a circular setting anchored by acurious installation — a pileup of smashed and steaming Mercedes, atenuous allusion to the clash of different cultures. The show openedwith the stirring tribal percussions of Sing Sing Rhythms, with KanyeWest and the recently blonde Kim Kardashian making their first officialpost-baby public appearance. In other words, the clothes had amplecompetition for attention. And yet the fashion trumped all.

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