Givenchy SS16: Meta or Mockery?
Sometimes, I feel like the elite members of the fashion industry get together and plan pranks on the rest of us unsuspecting mortals - those of us who don’t sit front row at fashion week and don’t get snapped by street style bloggers. Sometimes, it feels like the whole thing, the whole circus of fashion, is just a massive joke that someone is playing that will never end. It’s actually part of the reason that I stepped away from blogging and reading magazines and really even buying clothes for a while, so, of course, it makes sense that something has happened to make me feel that way now that I’m attempting to dip my toes back into the icy waters of fashion.
Ricardo Tisci’s recently shown “10th Anniversary” collection for Givenchy has critics raving. It’s a sexy, romantic collection, complete with underwear-as-outerwear, dramatic lace and a monochromatic colour palette that is as simple as it is striking. It was a mixture of women’s looks, with pared down yet simultaneously otherworldly beauty (practically barefaced models with bleached eyebrows), and men’s, with the token “boundary-pushing” skirt look that I guess is edgy in that sort of Kanye-West-fashion-victim type of way.
I have no problem with any of this. I am no expert by any means but it’s a solid collection, if I had a spare 3 grand to drop on a slip dress I would probably buy a piece come next summer. No, my problem isn’t the SS16 looks - my problem is the haute couture looks from seasons past that have been “reimagined” for next season.
I use quotations because this is what Vogue describes them as. While some details and colours may have changed, they are pretty much the exact same designs that have already been shown, so I don’t know what has really been reimagined here rehashed might be a better word, but who am I to argue with Vogue, right?
You could argue that this is Tisci’s way of celebrating his tenure at Givenchy, honouring himself with a homage of his own work. Aside from the fact that paying homage to your own creative genius strikes me as more than a little smug (what would you expect though, I guess), there are other ways to celebrate a legacy. Why not organise a retrospective? Why not a seperate show featuring the most iconic looks of the last 10 years? Why not a documentary? Why not take past designs and actually reimagine them to create something new, to move the brand into the next decade?
My last post was in defence of fashion’s seemingly backwardsfacingness (I know, not a word) and, honestly, I want to take the whole thing back. Feeling a little bit awkies for having claimed that fashion only looks back to push us forward as a society when, now, less than a week later, one of the biggest designers in the world, for one of the most prestigious brands in the world, has essentially offered us five-year old designs and called them new.
In the interest of fair and balanced blogging, while writing this I’ve tried to play devil’s advocate (I hate playing devil’s advocate, by the way, guys). It crossed my mind that maybe this is a critique on the constant pressure on designers to deliver new designs, new lines, new ranges, new ideas. When Givenchy first became a thing, there was only haute couture. This then expanded to ready-to-wear, encompassing spring/summer and autumn/winter collections. In the last decade or so ‘resort’ collections have become increasingly important to brands, as our appetite as consumers has grown and our attention spans have shrunk. That’s two extra collections a year. Maybe Tisci thought to himself this year that he’s already done enough, and was secretly sniggering to himself backstage for having given a silent f u to his bosses.
Or, maybe it’s a critique on the consumer culture that breeds a desire for a new wardrobe every 2 months. Maybe we created the monster and Tisci wanted to show us how stupid it is - probably not the best way to keep clients and fans happy though (although maybe not everyone reads this much into it and is really just here for the clothes). Possibly he is sick of the machine that keeps him employed. Possibly not.
It could be that this is an attempt to be meta, ironically self-referencing. Givenception, if you will. But since all fashion is self-referencing the irony has been lost, on me at least, and it comes off as self-congratulating but, again, most fashion already is so there is nothing new there either.
I’ve trawled the usual websites trying to find insight, as mentioned above, vogue described the ss10 looks as being ‘reimagined’, WWD, Elle and others haven’t even mentioned the looks in their show overviews. Other outlets have focused more on the celebrity guests than the clothes (again, nothing new there). I guess we’ll have to wait for the dust to settle before most people realise, or maybe they feel it’s not even worth discussing? Givenchy is Givenchy and we don’t question the motives, we just throw our money at it and pray for advertising.
Hypothetical explanations aside, I can’t shake the feeling that it’s an elaborate joke. I can’t decide if the fashion elite is the butt of said joke, or if it’s us as consumers, critics and enthusiasts that are being laughed at. Either way, it’s grating, to say the least. If you have any thoughts, please let me know – I’d like to know I’m not the only one, or I’d like to get some sort of semi-acceptable explanation.