Sex isn't something we've been seeing much of in Paris this season. Well, at least not overtly. There's something sexy, sometimes, in a woman being covered up. But for Spring 2012 Riccardo Tisci took the plunge - pardon the pun. Pun, indeed, as Tisci's Givenchy collection was inspired by a life aquatic, presumably better down where it's wetter.
Tisci has, of course, mined the deep for inspiration before - he turned out fold-over neoprene inspired by his experiences scuba-diving to great effect back in 2010. This time it was what was going on outside of those goggles rather than below his waist that stirred his creative cockles. Waves were transformed into fluid frills waterfalling down strict little curvy suits, right-angling at the hem to swell and crest about the midriff. In simple terms, a peplum - segueing precisely into next season's couture pretensions. Tisci, of course, couldn't leave it at that. For all the frills, froth, lace and little-girl pastels, this was a sharp, sleek showing of ferociously sexy garments. There was a frison of masculinity to loose coats worn over second-skin trousers or short skirts, often sliced even shorter in the front and back and leaving fins of fabric fluttering to the sides. The effect? A proscenium arch framing the thighs up to the juncture of the crotch. Told you it was sexy.
That slipstream suiting zipped by as if riding the Gulf stream. And that speed was part of its inimitable appeal. It took a moment to catch up with the way Riccardo Tisci was thinking, with his reinvention of those codes of femininity and mid-century couture. Is there an echo in here? No, but Tisci has latched onto two of the overriding sensibilities of next spring to give his own twist to them. Those highly-constructed shapes were a natural development from his last winter collection, but here he gave them a lightness and a finesse. There was less of a fascination with surface this time - which gave the clothes more depth. Of special note were the textural qualities of sequinned suiting approximating fish-scales, later replicated in mind-bogglingly minute discs of leather - skin pretending to be sequin pretending to be skin, in a slightly sick flesh-salmon and murky, bottom-of-the-ocean khaki green.
Of course, as Tisci's Givenchy clothes whizzed by it was impossible to take all those details in. But the overall effect was what matters - your mind can be expanded by the exquisite detailing on closer expansion. The overall effect this time was of a beautiful but deadly shoal of fish flashing by, barely glimpsed. They're like the shiny shiny platinum shark's teeth dangling around the models' necks. Beautiful but deadly. That's what Tisci's best work is about: there's always darkness, even when it's the epitome of light.