Essay: Sweater by Givenchy
Scuba and skiing. Those were the twin poles - some may say opposite poles - of inspiration for the Autumn/Winter 2010 collection at Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci. In this outfit, look 22 from the catwalk show, these sources literally collide, and are sliced in half - a wetsuit-inspired cotton jumpsuit peeled away from an intricate, intarsia sweater.
The pattern of this sweater is based on Fairisle knits - traditional handcraft given a twist in the great grand name of fashion. When we say twist, it's quite literally - the normally parallel horizontal bands of designs in Fairisle are taken on an erotic, ergonomic trip around the body, carving new erogenous zones in relief knit. If we think back to less traditional winter sports attire - the aerodynamic jumpsuits of Olympic athletes, for example - then these suctioned shapes make perfect sense, allied to the deconstructed scuba attire they are juxtaposed with.
Discarding shape in favour of surface leads us down a different route. Riccardo Tisci re-interpreted keffiyeh scarves and camouflage for his much-acclaimed Spring/Summer 2010 collection, and his intarsia knits for winter are a further elaboration on this. Elaborate is certainly the word - with red, blue, black and pistachio jacquard-knitted into patterns simultaneously reminiscent of Moorish tiles, bobbin lace and eighteenth century architecture.
For me, this sweater is an interesting contrast to an age when mass-market fashion consumers have by and large discarded the constructed garments of yesteryear for casual sportswear. Compare the number of tailored suits to the number of tracksuits on the streets of any metropolis for proof of my point. Here, however, Riccardo Tisci has considered all the elements essential in high-performance sportswear and reworked them into high-performance haute couture. Usually, fashion feels compelled to make a choice between stripping back to rudimentary bones, and allowing itself to be laden down with decoration and elaboration. Tisci has forged a third path - retaining the all the decoration and preciousness that makes his clothing unique, he has streamlined his fashion, like Concorde. His is the go-faster vision of Autumn/Winter 2010.