Paris SS 2011 Couture: Givenchy

This Season Givenchy fledged its wings and took flight with a new obsession: Japan. Think Tokyo lights, robots and the future (not Geishas.) Dancer Kazuo Ohno, who performed (and was regarded as the 'soul' of) an intense arrangement named Butoh was a huge influence on Riccardo Tisci's friend, singer Antony Hegarty and when Ohno sadly died last June Hegarty performed a tribute concert so beautiful that Tisci felt compelled to turn it into a collection. A contemporary dance form originating in Post-war Japan, the 'dance of utter darkness' is concerned with movement, fluidity and involves playful and grotesque imagery- what we would call Taboo. Capturing this aspect, Tisci used an emblem of the cross overlapped with a Robot and a palette of dead flowers (flowers often frequented Ohno's hair) with shocks of green, pink and orange neon on the reverse. Truly weird but wonderful, the craftmanship is astounding- one outfit took 2000 hours of cutting and 4000 hours of sewing. 

Android accessories played a huge part, drafting in Philip Treacy (fresh from the sci-fi saucers for Armani Privé) to make gargantuan helmets while the shoes were equally bionic. Laser-cut Organza was appliquéd onto layers of chiffon and tulle, creating a three-dimensional wing spread. Other gowns appeared to be origami- paper straight fabric was folded and manipulated into shapes- one a Japanese crane, again appliquéd. Swanlike feathers cover dresses, with silhouettes of swan necks, patterns of feathered wings and skirts of downy feathers.  Pearls and Swarovski crystals encrusted bodices of lavender and iris gowns which, accompanied with the lightness of the sheer chiffon and the structure of origami, was simply breathtaking.