It was Riccardo Tisci’s fortune to be the designer who was showing a collection in Paris as President Trump was being inaugurated. That, really, was an awesome position to be in, especially for an Italian who has long been inspired by and involved with America.
“I try to be positive, to see things positively for the future,” said Tisci.
His solution was to look “west at America, through the eyes of a child.” He added that his mood had lightened—a counterintuitive statement, perhaps, for someone who has long been classified as a Goth at heart. “For nine years as a designer, I did darkness,” he conceded. “I’ve just come out of that.” As Tisci put this show together, he said he felt “serenity.”
No heavy shadow of history appeared to fall across his collection. As Tisci offered post-show, he’d been inspired by “stars, stripes, totem poles, and looking at incredible images of Victorian women in the West.” He hastened to add, “I don’t like to steal anyone’s culture.” To give him his due, Tisci has been an industry pioneer in normalizing diversity in modeling, and his menswear show reflected that, all the way through to the casting of the various women-friends—Joan Smalls, Liya Kebede, and Kendall Jenner included—who wore his incredible couture collection at the end.
But let’s begin at the beginning. Suits have been a subject of this menswear season—how to make them palatable to a new generation being the operative issue. Givenchy’s midnight blue single- or double-breasted tailoring, with oversize, contrasting buttons, made a convincing case; a theme which circled back for evening, with variations on black tuxedo suits, all of them sparkled up with diamante brooch-like jewels for buttons.
Strong as those passages were, the nub of the collection is always what Tisci does to elevate streetwear to aspirational-designer-trophy level for his followers—and they’ll likely be stoked by the ideas he came up with here. Rather than follow the big-shouldered trend, he essentially shifted the silhouette to concentrate on playing around with striped, layered, elongated tunic shapes, worn over narrow trousers. The season’s status shirts came out as cartoony monster-face prints—a reference which seemed to hover nebulously between totemic imagery and Japanese Kabuki masks.
There was plenty more substance as well—great takes on duffle coats, cut in shearling, with sweeping collars and multicolored toggles; an upgrading of hoodies with the clever addition of silk scarves in place of drawstrings. It looked like believable, considered, designed fashion. You could see who’d want to buy it, and they weren’t being talked down to. It was a show which fully held attention, which is saying a lot, considering what Tisci was up against.
PARIS, JANUARY 21, 2017
Article by Sarah Mower