Givenchy! From womenswear to accessories to menswear to couture, its become such a monstrously influential thing, inciting critics, editors, stylists and the mad-for-fashion crowd to near riot levels of adoration. It certainly makes one stop to ponder. What started as random FB sparring with beloved TI contributor Louis (a/k/a Tricky Maus), swelled into his very insightful analysis of the Givenchy menswear ethos, a precise excision so critically sharp it brought a whole world of sense to the sensation.
My dear Tricky Maus, has the Givenchy man become a (fashion victim ) of his own instant success?
No, not even in terms of the mythical “idealized consumer” that some use to define the success of a clothing line. Let's say he is a representation of the modern man, a combination of many different and contrasting sub-cultures, which has finally been realized through Riccardo Tisci’s singular vision into a comprehensible understanding, no longer abstract, in perfect sync with the times. The Trifecta that makes up his vision consists of Religion (Catholic), Street x Culture/High x Low (Hip Hop x Couture) and Plastic Gender (Men in Skirts, Women in Tough Tailoring). It’s a result of his slow but deliberate effort, with each consecutive show season, to create and push based on an emotional level.
The connectivity of his core ideals may not have been obvious in the beginning, but as each consecutive collection was presented after each season, the puzzle pieces fell into place, through repetition of both the emotional/abstract components and the consistency of physical aspects such as shihouettes, color schemes, patterns, and fabric choices.
The Givenchy Man (and Woman) is, as expressed by Tisci himself, Latin, Catholic, Masculine and Feminine, street yet cultured, a mass of contradictions that seem to make sense when presented through Tisci’s prism. Having grown up in a Southern Italian household, resoundingly Catholic, without an abundance of means, and raised by only his mother and sisters, we can see why there is always a religious, iconic, or monastic theme running through each collection, sometimes bordering on being overtly gothic. The color palette was usually dark, consisting of mostly black, sometimes punched with flashes of color, usually a very primal passionate shade of red. He also has included intense patterns,
animal prints, and graphics on t-shirts as hardcore as those worn by Nordic Death Metal or American Wigger Rock bands (Isane Clown Posse…).
There is also a very heavy reference to modern street culture formed on opposite sides of the “Pond” The London Post Punk street and club culture of the 1990’s, when he was in London, struggling as a as a shop assistant, then a student at St. Martin's living with Maria Carla Boscono (at the time of her short cropped 60’s bowl cut and super thin boyish body), perhaps gave him his first taste of street and club culture. At that time, there was also the blossoming of the UK Hip Hop/Trip Hop scene, with figures such as Neneh Cherry, Zoe Bedeaux, Judy Blame, Ray Petri, creating that uniquely British hybrid of NY Hip Hop and London Punk known as BUFFALO, which was indebted to Punk. From there, one could say that Tisci identified with modern Street culture, allowing him to be whole heartedly accepting and inspired by what was then a truly American product, Hip Hop – moreover NY Hip Hop, where it all started.
Let's say that Hip Hop is to America what Punk is to England. It’s a bit strange and incestuous that Punk lead to Buffalo which was influenced by Hip Hop, which in turn was influenced by Punk through Westwood and Malcom Mclaren. But this kind of mutation is exactly what makes Givenchy so amazing right now…that all these seemingly separate ideas could be joined, compared and contrasted, and then accepted into a completely new idea, a sum of it’s parts.Not to digress, let’s look at to me are obvious Old School Hip Hop references (Shout out to Jamal \Shabazz “Back in the Day”) and the more modern West Coast/Gangsta references within the F/W 2011 Collection.
Yes, please get into the Banji Latino Hip Hop Realness thereof. Don't hold back!
Let's address this with a history of Tisci's time in London at St. Marks, living in London and living the club life with Maria Carla, absorbing street and club culture, with obvious echoes of the previous generations style ethos - once again Ray Petri, Wild Bunch, Westwood, etc. - connect it with how he has used this, as well as his Italian Latin Machismo coupled with his Catholic guilt. and his forays into the NY Banji / Butch Queen street culture (Think Jamal Shabazz ) which has become the basis of his redefinition of the Givenchy Man / Men's fashion, which has finally been brought an understandable point with F/W 2011 that the editors can understand. While at it touch upon his fascination with sex, and variants of gender (Lea T. - Vogueing Underground - Men in Skirts, Tough Tailoring for women).
Well do you think the Givenchy man is a fashion victim or fashion revolutionary?
The Givenchy man is not so much a fashion revolutionary, but the ultimate product of where men's wear should be - basically Tisci's strength and vision is being able to finally combine street with couture, but in a way that is respectable and does not seem contrived or just plain wack. The current collection, men's and women's is representative of that. - points to highlight would be breaking down the actual design details like the dog prints, the old school beaver hats and hunters jackets, the shorts and leggings combo (very bike messenger) - What's revolutionary has been his solid casting choices (both in his choice of Latin, Blatino, and street/skin head types, as well as gender bending lea t. and even genetic variants / albino models) - finally tying it all togehter with the "Steet Deluxe" moment ) which is a term we've coined for this movement we''ve seen developing with Givenchy/Tisci, Nous Sommes, Han Cholo Jeremy Scott x Addidas, Y3, JJ Farrer and Nicola Formechetti and is featured as complete lifestyle choice, easily created for oneself via retailers such as Dover Street Market, Restir, Colette. His subtle hint of this concept that he dropped with Kayne's album was genius in it's cross platform partnering - and added some hip hop cred.
Is the vision newness or is it just the ultra-Panos remix?
It is not completely new, as it's hard to find anything new in fashion, but he is at the helm of the movement - and with Givenchy, he's done it at a venerable house, unlike other European designers such JPG (too French and too camp, Gaultier's not really having enough Street cred). Let's not say it's a Panos / Petri remix, but maybe has roots and echoes, maybe the wonder child of those revolutionaries. His obvious mix of street / hip hop culture, still tough but refined for fashion, is at the helm of the current movement - Givenchy is at the zeigeist of men's fashion - perhaps his forays into gender exploration as well. Anything that could be construed as a non-traditional gender is really one of the last barriers of acceptance, in fashion, and by society
I know you're mad for Givenchy FW 11. But where the fuck does one wear a sweatshirt w a big Rottweiler upon it? Speak for both LA and NY.
Wear the sweatshirt / T-shirts to any where you want - it's mad crazy graphic, has enough street cred to go from the Bronx to Soho and back uptown for those in the know (and even care about that it's Givenchy) - Rottweilers have always had a strong belonging in the Hip Hop culture, both on the East and West Coast - Gangsta rap / NWA / Dog Pound for the West - and the Gangsta image that they've been associated with - Contrasting point is that it's close to being very played out as it's already been seen everywhere, just a few weeks shipped and selling out..But it is a key piece worth holding on to - something of this moment, like say the Westwood crown hat...Hamnett slogan T-shirt ...Gaultier vintage corset dresses...original Margiela tabi boots. Of course it'll be worn to death at any music event -
I won't lie, the Givenchy FW 11 accessories make me stand up and point but have you noticed the price point jump? The beyond genius 3cm chain belt is retail apx 3.5 k! What's yr conspiracy theory on that? Are they going all Balmain on us?
There are some pieces that are beyond crazy - the t-shirts, really, at 250 are all right, the sweatshirts are questionable at 450 but the jewelry is beyond crazy with the price point, so is the bulldog back pack at 2000 . It's funny, these designs should be at a price point that is accessible to those he is so strongly influenced by - in his own words, the tough kids, people from the Bronx - but very few will be able to afford it .
But there are enough marketable pieces that are accessible - unlike Balmain where everything was ridiculously overpriced. It could have been a reason for the company to develop a diffusion line, but if rumors are true, that might be a moot point.
How did the Spring 12 line strike you? Are you buying?
Spring line was a surprise, as it was a departure in terms of color, and of course the floral digital prints - the clothing lines was still in line with his past few collections, and the aggression was still there in the way the flowers were manipulated to look like some poisonous, almost insect thorny like creature - not an oversized floral which was heavily featured in say Kenzo or Prada. Also evident with the use of sequins, and other feminine design details, he is continuing his exploration of erasing gender lines through men's clothing. Casting was still on point - Baseball caps / Sweatshirt, I'll be buying - The earrings, if not too expensive. ..The man skirts, perhaps not, but at least he's giving a choice for the kids of this generation, where gender lines are a lot more relaxed that for someone of my age and generation. Anything that could be construed as a non-traditional gender is really one of the last barriers of acceptance, in fashion, and by society. Critics and bloggers were writing that his inspiration was his fascination with Hawaii, but to me, with there's more of a dangerous, almost poisonous subtext in the graphic, like say a dangerous plant found in the early days of explorer in the amazon or Papua New Gunea, or the bright markings some dangerous animals present as warnings -