The publishing of this AEQAI article couldn’t come at a better time as fashion month is officially in full swing with designers showcasing their Spring 2016 collections across the globe. It first begins in the United States with New York Fashion Week, and then migrates to London, Milan, and Paris. Generally speaking, as the fashion crowd moves east to each new city, the fashion itself becomes more interesting. Paris is always the highlight of the calendar.

Speaking of Paris, one of the mainstay runway shows of Paris Fashion Week is that of Givenchy, the French luxury brand founded by Hubert de Givenchy in 1952 and currently helmed by Italian-born designer Riccardo Tisci. Givenchy’s show is always one of the most highly anticipated shows in Paris every season. So imagine how excited everyone was when Tisci announced he would forgo the City of Lights and instead show Givenchy Spring 2016 in New York City this year. It caused quite the stir.

Although a bit out of ordinary, moving the show to New York City does actually make sense if you know the backstory. First, the brand unveiled their new NYC Flagship Store on the day of the runway show. Second, Hubert de Givenchy was known to have always been inspired by the New York woman who he saw as needing dual functionality in ready-to-wear clothing: fashion + function. Most importantly though, it was Tisci himself who has a true affinity for America and its fashion capital. And, with his runway show on Pier 26 overlooking the Freedom Tower on September 11th, Tisci truly wrote a love letter to New York City that was both referent of the tragedy the city has endured and celebratory of the melting pot the city represents.

The night began with a performance piece as a diverse mix of people filed in to see the show. Besides the celebrity-filled audience one expects to see at a Givenchy show, hundreds of tickets were also given to the public for a standing-only section. There’s no doubt opening the show to the general public was a nod to the city’s diversity. Fashion is not simply for the elite.

Once the models started walking the runway, what was most striking was the live hymnal music being performed. Even as an observer watching the show on video (versus those lucky enough to see the show in person), the music was moving and, quite frankly, elevating. The hymns Tisci chose which were all from different religions around the world and the decision to have live performers singing them made them even more poignant. But the ability of this particular music to stir emotions in the audience also elevated the clothes walking down the runway. Senses were heightened and, as a result, every ornate stitch and interesting drape was seen with a more alive pair of eyes.

Like with most runway shows, the garments themselves started with safe, safe in the Givenchy way that is, and moved to daring with swift ease. The monochromatic garments were inspired by lingerie design techniques with tuxedo elements weaved in and focused on a color palette of black, white, and gold. Givenchy’s now-signature intricate face jewelry added an extra layer of intrigue to the garments as well. Although they were stunningly designed, and they absolutely were as Tisci even showed couture pieces never before seen on the runway, the clothing almost took a back seat to the message Tisci and his art director, performance artist Marina Abramović, were trying to portray. That’s what made the night even more special.

There’s something incredibly touching about a tribute to New York City when it comes from an Italian-born designer for a French luxury brand. Perhaps it’s having the perspective of seeing things from the outside. “America was the first country to really believe in me. It’s a way of saying thank you to America for what it’s given to me,” the designer said to CNN. Beautifully said, Mr. Tisci.

–Jenny Perusek is a freelance Brand Manager, specializing in fashion and the creative arts.

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