Givenchy's Dark Romance

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FWD201 Model walks the runway at the Givenchy show during Spring 2013 Fashion Week in Paris on Sunday, …

Givenchy's catwalk shows are public debates that its designer Riccardo Tisci has with himself each season, where his inner demons and personal obsessions do battle for his soul.

The spring 2013 collection presented Sunday night, Sept. 30, was no different. The threads of religion, romance, gothic imagery and female power run through all his collections.

His staging showed the different directions in which he is swayed: a church organist in an elegant wooden scaffold at one end of the Paris high school interior courtyard where the show was staged, a rocking DJ duo at the other.

Just like the soundtrack, the clothes competed for attention. Tisci went back to the house's archive, and discovered some striking new moon shape tailoring - seen to great effect in stiff silk tops and theatrical cocoon jackets.

His women varied from the rapacious to the devout: a Catherine de Medici calico blouse one second, then a simmering femme fatale in a tunic of white jacquard, the sort of fabric a cardinal would wear. And as the church organist hit some super moody chords, a posse of sexy nun models paraded around the musician.

Most looks were finished with tough chic metal chokers, mini shoulder straps, bracelets and heels - adding punch to the ensembles.

"They came from Carlo Molino, but from his furniture not his work," said Tisci backstage, as a mob of fans showered him with compliments.

It's been quite a season for Molino, the fantastical Italian architect and photographer of the faintly perverse, seeing as Consuelo Castiglioni at Marni in Milan cited him last week as an influence on her new geometric fashion.

There was little geometric about this Givenchy show, whose finale featured floor-length white chiffon blouses, with one side cut out to reveal tuxedo pants underneath. Every second look was trimmed and completed with a fluttering ruffle, a romantic touch to the dynamic yet fervent style.

However, though thoroughly accomplished, the show did not quite reach the heights of recent Givenchy outings. There were no special bookings or visiting super models like Gisele Bundchen or Natalia Vodianova, one of the highlights of Givenchy shows. Moreover, the trip to the archive, while intriguing, meant the collection broke less ground than one is used to with Tisci.

That said, even a couple of points off his A-game, a Givenchy show by Tisci is always a truly compelling affair.

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