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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

Egypt goes Pop

Riccardo Tisci rolls out Cleopatra Lite for the Digital Age

14 Марта 2016

Givenchy, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Givenchy, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

In a psychedelic circle of patterns and desert sand shades, the Givenchy collection burst into life. Egyptian life.

So this is why we, the audience, were sitting in a maze of sand-coloured wood — as seen inside ancient pyramids, if I remember my history lessons well. My memory certainly whispered, “snap!” at Riccardo Tisci’s collection.

After all, haven't we seen this Cleopatra sequence a few times before, when Alexander McQueen was competing with John Galliano to be the pharaoh of spectacle? I recalled McQueen’s male models perching in costume in the rafters of the Ècole des Beaux Arts building. And Galliano’s triumphal marches in 2004, with Tutankhamun masks and the fantastical jackal headpieces sculpted by Stephen Jones. But that was then. Now designers do not go the whole elaborate, theatrical way.

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Givenchy, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Givenchy, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Givenchy, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Givenchy, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


So Riccardo took the iconography and printed it in pallid, sandy colours on long-sleeved silk dresses. The occasional Egyptian pair of eyes glared out from the thighs or as a single symbol on the chest. This was Cleopatra lite.

“It's about strong, powerful women, the club scene, psychedelic music — and I have always been obsessed with Egypt,” said the designer backstage, although he was too busy greeting the usual hip crowd of Kanye West, Kris Jenner and Ciara to elaborate on the influence of Cleopatra on his collection. 

The psychedelic/Egyptian patterns, now fitted digitally around the body shape, looked good, rarely like costumes and modest, especially when a silver top appeared under a tailored black coat or dress. There was a minor visual rave when patterns shot off the skirt in a psychedelic whorl or seemed to explode over a leopard-print coat. But mostly, Egypt was a decorative addition to the Tisci tailoring, which seems to get more streamlined and effective each season. And yet…

Givenchy, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Givenchy, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

I couldn't help but think back wistfully to the triumphal march of fashion alongside history and art. The Galliano/McQueen standoff gave us such exceptional flashbulb memories. Ricardo’s show was just fine, but one thing is sure: the designers themselves do not have any time now to take a boat down the Nile, to explore Egypt’s desert and its ancient artefacts.

With pre-collections, cruise or whatever, fashion is now about sending out a good, lively, imaginative saleable collection, which Givenchy was.

Next?

Givenchy, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Givenchy, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

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