Paris label Givenchy delivers menswear steeped in religious rigor

By Jenny Barchfield, AP
Friday, January 22, 2010

Givenchy delivers menswear steeped in Catholicism

PARIS — Givenchy looked toward heaven with an inspired fall-winter 2010-2011 menswear collection with deep Catholic roots.

Schubert’s “Ave Maria” boomed over the loudspeaker and the spicy odor of incense filled the ornate hall at Paris’ Sorbonne university as models clad in crocodile Jesus sandals and gilded thorn necklaces padded down the catwalk.

“Religion is a big part of my DNA and this collection was about my Catholic(ism) and every other religion in a way,” Givenchy’s Italian-born designer Riccardo Tisci told The Associated Press in a backstage interview.

He said he had looked toward religious men — priests in their stark black and white frocks, the brown robes of Franciscan monks and the layered suits of Jewish rabbis — for inspiration because their garb represented “the most chic way, the most pure way of dressing.”

The show marked a departure from Tisci’s heavily ornamented style of seasons past: Gone were the heaps of chunky, Latino homeboy chains, the gilded star insignia and the keffiyeh prints — replaced by a stripped-clean silhouette in black and white. Slim, dark suits were worn with crisp white shirts — some so plain they were shorn even of their buttons.

Still Tisci, a critical darling who is known for his Gothic sensibility, didn’t come completely clean. The collection retained a hint of his trademark subversive kinkiness, particularly in the tailored black skirt-short hybrids worn over neoprene leggings.

“This is the real me, 100 percent — the cut, the fabrics, the way I’m playing with shapes,” said Tisci, who added that the idea for using neoprene had come from his pastime as a diver. “This is my favorite collection.”

The audience appeared to agree: The several hundred fashion insiders, who have been quite blase throughout the first two days of Paris’ menswear shows, let out a whoop of approval.

Tisci, who also designs ready-to-wear and haute couture for the Paris based label, was in his fourth season as Givenchy’s menswear designer.

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