In a season in which almost every designer has mentioned sportswear as being a key reference for SS17, and noted its vital presence in the “modern woman’s wardrobe”, it was a surprise to find Riccardo Tisci (one of athleisurewear’s major architects) turning away from the sweatshirts and branded sneakers that have made his Givenchy such a commercial success.
His SS17 collection was one for the grown-ups: smart tailoring, mesh layered dresses with linear sinewy seams, sensible heels. Classic Givenchy, beautifully cut. “I wanted to move into new territory,” said the designer backstage. “After all the big shapes of sportswear, I wanted to change it into something more powerful, something more sensual. This is a year of the powerful woman, I wanted to reflect that.”
And good for him: the collection was strong, and very chic. They were clothes for women who work, who command attention. They looked slick and professional. Sometimes Tisci’s version of a powerful woman can be a little hypersexualised. This time his instincts were more controlled: the tailoring was neat and functional; smart black jackets were fastened with zipper fixtures so that the peplum and pockets could be taken away; jersey shirt dresses in 1970s colours looked arresting; the classic black shift dresses with gemmology prints were effortless. More real. Colour was used deftly, the base remained black, but Tisci had been more exploratory with his choices. And they worked extremely well.
The show was staged outside the Museum of Natural History on a long mirrored catwalk under big globular lights. The show’s accents — mineralogy designs on devoré velvet, heavy quartzite pendants, feather details, plant prints and tree roots — seemed to have been taken directly from the galleries around us, but Tisci said the show’s set had been a happy accident. “It’s about mandala,” he said as the model Kendall Jenner planted a kiss on his cheek. He was talking of the Tibetan circle of wisdom that represents all aspects of our life and the world around us. Whatever about the spiritual meaning, the clothes here were impressive. Tisci’s new direction was a wise move indeed.