A killer creative instinct has put Riccardo Tisci at the top of his game. His last show was a blockbuster. His influence continues to seep onto the runways of others and has trickled down to the mainstream — see the explosion of designer sweatshirts and bomber jackets everywhere. Maintaining that level of intrigue and celebration takes more than commercial hits and insider hype; self-awareness is crucial.
“I’m not saying leave it, but I want to move on from the print, which is a success. I want to just explore a new world,” Tisci said backstage after his spectacular spring show, which featured virtually no prints — no Bambi, no panthers — nor a single sweatshirt. For his new direction, he summoned his fascination with Japanese and African cultures, intertwining their indigenous traditions of dress for a collection that pulsed with elegant female power.
It started off on a quiet, natural note with a bare-faced, dark-haired model in a tawny draped jersey dress with a pleated harness neckline and a sporty, elastic detail at the waist. Tisci built on the sultry draping, enhancing with woven leather harnesses, layering in silk tailoring with a soft kimono influence, and coursing through a rich, earthy palette of oranges, taupes, red, black and navy. All of the models wore flat sandals, and some had their faces painted like colorful sequined masks to underscore the ongoing tribal sensibility, which was handled with the utmost modernity. It came in evocative draping, Masai-like corded details and raw, feathered capes. It showed through, too, in the exquisite finale: a series of glamour goddess gowns cut with wide strips over the breasts, and a skirt of sunburst pleats that opened into a rainbow of graphic sequins.
Tisci showed it all in a circular setting anchored by a curious installation — a pileup of smashed and steaming Mercedes, a tenuous allusion to the clash of different cultures. The show opened with the stirring tribal percussions of Sing Sing Rhythms, with Kanye West and the recently blonde Kim Kardashian making their first official post-baby public appearance. In other words, the clothes had ample competition for attention. And yet the fashion trumped all.