Trend, as a season by season notion, is becoming less relevant. Designers have been revisiting past work to figure out what has been successful and strategically redesigning these pieces to suit the taste of the current consumer. The styling and merchandizing of looks has become increasingly more important as mood rather than trend becomes the zeitgeist of the creative process. The noughties have been volatile and truculent times, a period of refreshing redefinition in much of the western world across all boards from politics and economy to global and cultural affairs; war, disaster, fame, and recession have all made their mark. The magical thing about fashion is that all of humanity, in one way or another, is a direct participant in its conception and function; fashion is directly informed by the story of the human race. Fashion designers look to this, with both past and present influencing the synthesis of a collection.
The spring/summer 2010 season is the starting point of a gradual segue into a new paradigm for both the industry and the individual, as the fashion community attempts to define itself within the context of the last decade. The nineties, the eighties, the seventies, etc., all have immediately identifiable aesthetics-what of the noughties? Availability and agility of information sped up the dissemination of style and the flow of the fashion cycle has become ever truncated; consumers become bored with fashion quicker, and this in tandem with the current economic situation has galvanized designers into becoming more innovative with the thought process behind their collections.
However, to which designers can today’s dedicated followers of fashion look for successful, cohesive executions of these design principles? Look no further than Riccardo Tisci, the design genius behind Givenchy. The spring/summer 2010 Men’s collection for the label is a milestone for the decade, a unique and intelligently crafted synthesis of decades and cultures. A closer look at Tisci’s designs reveals influences from two very different sources: nineties American music culture and the Islamic world. Since Tisci took the helm at Givenchy in 2005 after graduating from Central Saint Martin’s, his highly conceptual design aesthetic garners mixed reviews. Wildly more successful than his predecessors, however, he has become a force to contend with in the industry.
As the decade immediately preceding the noughties, the events of the nineties had a tremendous impact on the past ten years. The industry looks to these influences for inspiration, and Tisci’s collection embodies them better than any other designer. There is a pleasing variety in the design and styling of the looks: tasteful, minimalist suits paired with crisp, hidden-button shirts and built in cummerbunds, oversized shirts and deconstructed drop-crotch pants in tartan and tribal prints sporting intricate gold metal detailing, and athletically inflected tops in mesh and metallic finish. Consider the culture, events, and characters that arose around the music of the early nineties: Kurt Cobain and Nirvana popularized the mosh-pit hardcore scene, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube were key members of Niggaz With Attitude (N.W.A.)-a cardinal hip-hop group of the gansta rap sub-genre. The fashion that emerged from these two very different musical influences followed very similar stories with color, merchandizing, and silhouette. Grunge and punk had a heavy emphasis on dark colors, studs, leather, mesh and tartan prints while hip-hop focused on similarly dark palettes with gold accents, chains, athletic wear and tribal prints; furthermore, a slouchy, layered, deconstructed silhouette was critical for both.
The influence from the Islamic world, in particular the Middle East and North Africa, is also quite apparent in Tisci’s work with prints inspired by the Kefiyah, ethnic Berber and Chiadma tribal motifs, arabesque geometric patterns, headscarves, and innovative sandal-like footwear. The gold and metallic accents, loose deconstruction, and black, red, and white palette are qualities shared and inspired by both the musical and Arab influences. Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa rampaged in the early nineties, and for much of the decade all eyes were on the region; the Gulf War, Muammar al-Gaddafi controversies in both Libya and abroad, and the Western Sahara conflict between Morocco and Spain were all key events that characterized much of the Arab world to the western eye by way of the media. As clever as Tisci’s juxtaposition of these two very different rich cultural sources is, the question remains as to why he chose them as the inspirational framework for his collection. If nothing else, it is an innovative take on the intersection between east and west- as America and the Middle East often find themselves at odds with each other, weaving their respective cultures into such a singular concept is both extremely difficult and extremely relevant. The designer stated that the main theme of the collection was “Latino boy goes to Morocco”, which was apparent- Tisci continually uses his “Latino boy” as the muse for his menswear line. The designer is also known for the gothic edge he likes to imbue into his looks, which meshes well with “the mosh-pit couture that defined his first two menswear lines for Givenchy,” as the Style.com review of the show mentioned. As his grungey-gothic look has gained popularity, the decision to apply it within the parameters of his Moroccan theme may have finally hit the mark he’s been searching for.
Motif and pattern in Islamic art served a quasi-transcendental function, elevating an object onto a plane above the ordinary; in an interesting parallel, Riccardo Tisci’s showing for Givenchy featuring these same motifs and patterns achieves a similar effect on the fashion industry, pioneering the design process for a new paradigm in fashion conceptualism. Keeping all of this in mind, the genius behind the Givenchy Men’s spring/summer 2010 collection is that Tisci successfully considered all of these influences and melded them with the modern, minimalist sensibility that has been a seminal influence on fashion. It is fair to say that structure and minimalism could very well be identified by future designers as the outstanding motif of early twenty-first century fashion. Tisci recognized the importance of this aesthetic and successfully combined it with an intelligent, relevant nineties edge while simultaneously taking care to craft a collection of relatively basic sportswear separates that can easily be carried into future seasons. It’s a perfect trifecta of masterful, erudite design that bridges decades, cultures, and generations - a truly cosmopolitan collection that can keep pace with an increasingly borderless, rapidly changing world.
-Post by Nicolas Sera-Leyva