Riccardo Tisci, Creative Director at Givenchy, always puts his own personal passions--and obsessions--into his collections, whether it is a love for the mythical Minotaur or the American flag. In this '13-'14 Fall-Winter collection shown at Paris Fashion Week, Tisci's loves this time include the work of legendary photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and, yes, the United States. But this time it is a little difficult to tell if he is admiring or admonishing the U.S. The collection is dark and heavy, which, I suppose, is appropriate for a Fall-Winter collection, but then look at details like "Amerika" spelled with a "k" on a shirt, and the slate, charcoal, and black upside down American flag. Bone to pick? Get in line. And then there are sweaters that are a frightening Frankenstein-like hybrid of football uniform padding, miscellaneous sports costume flourishes, and the stitching from an actual baseball...followed by a shirt that has a baseball and skull melting into each other. Surely this must be a comment on the bizarre sports-obsessed culture in the Unites States. It all feels Fascistic and totalitarian--even his use, in homage to Mapplethorpe, of black and white photography. The images exist in small, tight, regimented boxes, sewn as patches (like a Fascistic uniform) onto breasts or sleeves. Even when not adorned with any detail or image, the pieces in this collection reflect might and intimidation, like the leather apron/smock in the last image. Join the club or die. Even the runway was limned in rows of white candles, describing the shape of the space in which the show took place, like some arcane occult ritual. Some of the world's most infamous Fascists and dictators have been fascinated with mystic and occult ideas. Am I reading too much into this? When studied, this is a pretty opinionated collection.
But Tisci swears his love for the United States. "I've been obsessed with America since I was a kid," he explained. "It's the typical Italian dream of someone who wants to be somebody."