The trends have been well established for next season, designers seeming to speak with a single unanimous voice we haven't heard for years. Tick them off on your fingers: longer skirts; billowing chiffon; masculine-feminine tailoring; exoticism (print, colour, mainly the Far East or Africa). At this point in the season, it's as difficult for designers to make those looks interesting and different as it is for us journalists to find new words to describe them. Okay, maybe it's a bit more difficult for the designers, I'll give them that.
It's a mark of Riccardo Tisci's talent that he managed to make each and every one of them look exciting, in his latest fantastic outing for Givenchy. Not just that, he also delved into his own back-catalogue and pulled out a few of his greatest hits, making them pop with extra pizazz for good measure. His central idea this season was dark and slightly forbidding. He's always had a gothic slant, and for spring he played with the animalistic and sadomasochistic, with a surfeit of leopard on the one hand, and on the other shiny silver zips snaking their way through garments, jangling at hips and bisecting the torso. Sometimes these were raised up into strips, their cage-work at once decorative and functional - at least functional in a kinky game of peekaboo.
That peekaboo idea was expounded in transparent panels, dropping from jackets or forming long skirts or sheer trousers, most often under shorter tunics. It's a story we've seen all over for next spring, but Tisci's were some of the most accomplished. That leopard, however, was all Tisci's own, used with such a ferocity that it could easily have run away with the whole collection. Instead it was the highpoint, in coats, odd sleeveless tailored jackets and skinny boot-cut trousers and a few great billowing evening dresses. Those were aggressive but still feminine, matched in ruffled chopped up savagely around the body and scarred with yet more of those zips. Maybe that was part of the punk undercurrent we've seen in Paris, but for the first time it managed to look intriguing and genuinely thought out rather than an ill-advised seventies rehash.
If there was a criticism, it was that this collection didn't really bring anything new to the table, for either Givenchy or the season ahead. But does that ultimately matter? What it did offer were refined and thoroughly thought-out versions of clothes Givenchy fans will love to wear, with enough new about them to excite the fashion press and buyers, make interesting photographs, and send the high-street copyists into overdrive. It wasn't overwhelmingly emotional, but at the end of the day those moments are few and far between. Fashion is an industry, and for Tisci this was a job well done.