The new Givenchy couture collection was too breathtakingly detailed to be appreciated as models whizzed by on a catwalk. So instead it was showcased last Tuesday before a few select editors, in the gorgeous Hotel D’Evreux. The decadent collection looked perfectly at home in this opulent setting, all Parisian antiquity with its gold wall trimming and chandeliers.
And decadent it sure was. The collection inspired by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, and her three main passions: religion, anatomy and sensuality. So we start with frothy white lace dresses referencing Mexican bridal wear. The other dresses are in similarly soft shades, like the sheer champagne-coloured chiffon, or the thick taupe feathering. Feathers adorn two exquisite gowns, a desert icon which is here given an ethereal and somewhat gothic revision. Fringing is also used, as well as intricate embroidery – both Mexican techniques. It is the embroidery that makes the garments so outstanding. The delicate sheer fabrics are embellished with painstakingly detailed beading, stones and lace. The final dresses departed from the pale tones: they were a bewitching bright Aztec gold. When this striking shade met the extravagance of their detailing, the result was spell-binding.
What is fantastic about the designs is that they are not a clear, literal allusion to Kahlo. They don’t just transplant her aesthetic from the canvas to the garment. There are none of her vivid colours, nor her bold, simplistic shapes. Instead the interpretation is far more subtle. Her passion for religion is reflected in the pious white lace gowns. Her passion for anatomy brings the sheer fabrics: windows to the bare figure exposed below. And from these tantalising glimpses of skin to the soft feathers, from the tight, curving silhouettes to the dainty chiffon, her passion for sensuality infuses it all.