Monday, July 6, 2009

Me & Cathy Horyn Are BFFs, Me & Ricardo Tisci Are Not

Cathy Horyn is my favorite fashion journalist. If you aren't reading her blog in the NY Times, you're missing out. Last week, reviewing the men's shows in Paris, she called Ricardo Tisci's collection for Givenchy "just plain tedious," and my heart warmed with fellow-feeling. Horyn's post caused a tornado of comment on her already comment-heavy blog (While I really love Horyn's writing, I'm less enamored of the commentary that her regular readers provide. There are a lot of folks who seem to know a lot about fashion and they want you to know it, too. It is not uncommon for her readers to post comments that are a good chunk longer than the posts they're ommenting on. Frankly, that gets "just plain tedious," too.) and she followed up with a post wherein she spoke at greater length about "the insecurity of a designer who doesn’t have a meaningful, real vision." Bells chimed in my chilly little fashionista heart when I read that, because for several seasons now I've been looking at Tisci's work for Givenchy and thinking, "I don't get it. There's no there there."

Here are some of the looks from the collection:

Okay, nothing wrong with this, basic black suit, skinny trouser silhouette which is fairly common these days. It's hard to tell from this photo with the model's hands in his pockets just what exactly is going on with the tailoring of the jacket, but it looks inoffensive enough.

On the other hand...

Um, WHAT???

Ooooooh, for pete's sake, why not just put a frame around your johnson and be done with it? Honestly...

Much has been made of the fact that Tisci was supposed to be designing costumes for the late Michael Jackson's scheduled tour this year, and that this collaboration inspired many of the flashier pieces in the collection.

But I cannot for the life of me feature the King of Pop in this rig. Leather shorts and leggings. What. Ever.

I mean, really -- what am I supposed to do with this??

This I just showed you because... well, you know the because. Gracious.

Now. I know a lot of silliness shows up on the runway during all seasons, men & women, ready-to-wear and couture -- everywhere. And at first glance, you might look at John Galliano's collection and think, this is every bit as ridiculous as Tisci's stuff.

But it's not. It might be styled in an extreme way, but the clothes are actually really, really beautiful.

This collection was inspired by Napoleon, of all people. The runway show was divided into three themes: his early years in Corsica, his campaign into north Africa, and his time as the ruler of France.

Does this seem silly to you? I suppose in a way it is. But the up side of this is that it gives a designer a skeleton to hang his ideas on, and a way to indulge in higher-concept design than he could if simply presenting a bunch of clothes to wear. And as far as I'm concerned, the genius of Galliano is how far he can push the fantastical boundaries of an idea and still have beautiful, wearable clothes buried in it. The styling of the three outfits above is decidedly extreme, but it's easy to see how it is in service of the ideas of the collection, and it doesn't rob the clothes of their impact. The leather safari jacket in the first photo is a thing of real beauty, as is that gorgeous embroidered shirt in the second.

The second section of the show was my favorite.

I just love this. I'm always a fan of a monochromatic palette done in lots of different textures, and I think these desert-inspired clothes are simply gorgeous.

That jacket is fantastic. FANTASTIC.

No, of course no one is going to walk down the streets of Manhattan swathed in mosquito netting, but it makes for a lovely effect on the runway.

Aside from the Lawrence of Arabia headgear (and probably the sandals avec chaussures), if a man showed up to take me out to dinner wearing this, I wouldn't bat an eye. Okay, I would bat, but in the good way. He would be ill-advised to leave that embroidered vest unattended, though. I would gank that in a heartbeat.

The other thing I love about John Galliano? Sense of humor.

C'mon! That's FUNNY. Nothing Tisci showed in his collection had even the tiniest bit of humor about it. Okay, sure, it was funny, but not in the way you want.

Pat McGrath did the makeup for Galliano's show and as usual it was great, but it was in this last section that she really got to go to town and show what a genius she is.

Voila! Napoleon himself! If you are a hair stylist or makeup artist, it must be a dream come true to work with Galliano.

Normally I don't go for the sort of goth thing we're edging into here

(unless it's a certain Billowy Coat King of Pain TV character whom I still miss), but I think this is beautiful. I doubt there are very many men who will be willing to take the time to wrap themselves so artfully about the waist with a shirt like that, but I really think they should. (Yes, it's a shirt. Look closely. Talk about working your wardrobe resources!)

I also don't think any of the men in my life would be willing to go with this look, with the embroidered lapels and the layers of what looks like tulle, but again -- just gorgeous. As we know, any designer gets extra points from me for things that reward movement, and even this still photo makes me want to put on this coat and run across the moors or some such.


Gallliano's shows and styling -- nutty, wacky, OTT. But that's okay with me. Galliano views every runway collection, for any of the labels he designs, as a laboratory for cooking up new ideas. You can see it quite clearly in his Dior Couture collections, and we expect to see the wildest flights of fantasy in couture, but he brings that to all of his ready to wear, too. He pushes everything to its most extreme and makes an enormous spectacle, but you can always see the bones of what he's doing inside it. Strip away the makeup and the mosquito netting and the laurel crowns on the models' heads and what you can see the beautiful clothes that are going to show up in the stores and the overall feeling of the season that he's created. Nothing Tisci showed is anything but a weak attempt at trendiness and shock value, and to my eye every single one of the exits from his show looked more ridiculous than any of Galliano's theatrical Corsairs with their inch-thick eyeliner. (And don't even get me started on how much it bothers me that Tisci seems to have no relationship What. So. Ever. To the history of the house of Givenchy; a designer, you'll recall, who was a protegé of Balenciaga and a favorite of Audrey Hepburn. Fancy Audrey wearing this. I don't think so.)

A note: Sorry I was AWOL all last week. It got a little hectic around here!


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Anonymous said...

Oh, thanks for this!! Galliano always brings so much ROMANCE to everything he does. I love it all.

As for this Tisci fellow...gosh, that's just sad.

Karen G.

Claudia said...

Oh, wow, yes, what an AWFUL collection. Whereas, as you say... that crazy Galliano is mad, but he is funny mad. He's probably the only person who could drape most of a big cat around someone's shoulders and make it look like a GOOD idea.

Lovely post!!

CompassRose said...

So... what is that last one? Napoleon as Morpheus interpreted by Neil Gaiman?

I think I'm gonna try the shirt-obi. That's fun.

jC Dot said...

That is an absolutely fabulous piece. Now I"m really curious to start reading Cathy Horyn (as if I'm not short enough of time in my life!) because I used to be a NY girl and she's clearly appeared after I disappeared.
Just wanted to let you know I'm tagging you for an 'award' as we speak. Give me about 20 minutes & then check it out on my blog (this isn't a ploy to get you there, by the way!)
I love the Galliano stuff and dislike RT's for the same reason. A sense of humour & the intelligence to back it up is key to me. Not just in designers but friends - and men!

Anonymous said...

oh my gosh :)
THANKYOU, you completely summed up my love for Joh Galliano's work in words I could not say your critique was hilarious!
nicky x

Bonjour Madame said...

Great post! Such a contrast between the two collections. Galliano brings it. When I was in Paris in october, I swear I was on the Eiffel Tower at the same time as Galliano and Marion Cotillard for the Dior shoot. It was hidden behind black veil of course and I could not see to confirm, but I'm pretty convinced it was the same photo think maybe I was that close to him!!! (or at least that's the story I'm sticking to) :)

StyleSpy said...

Karen -- Yes, romance in the best sense. I agree.

Claudia -- do you think you could persuade Kevin to do that?

CompassRose -- get on with your bad shirt-tying self and please send a photo!

StyleSpy said...

jC -- You are awfully sweet and do not have to exercise loys to get me to your fabulous blog, dearie!

Nicky -- Thank you! So glad you enjoyed the post.

Madame -- OMG, I would have completely fallen apart. You could stand me next to the biggest movie star in the world & my pulse wouldn't even go up, but Galliano? I. Would. DIE.

Deja Pseu said...

I'm with you on Galliano. He's brilliant, and always seems to bring a sense of fun to what he does.

Belle de Ville said...

Another great post!
Galiano, certainly way out there but beyond brilliant. Last season he gave us the 18th Century, this year Napoleon in the 19th Century.
His work is certainly crazy but cerebral.

Toby Wollin said...

What Galliano sends as a message to ME is this: to be a genuine designer, you've got to really know your stuff..not just technical, but costume, clothing history, etc. etc. Galliano has this ability to reach back into the mists of time and pull together such an amazing amount of stuff..and then twist it up. The other guy? Sheesh - who's he? He's brought nothing to the table here. Zip.