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Monday, January 31, 2011

The Clothes On Their Backs

Riccardo Tisci's Givenchy couture offerings this season were all about Asian influence. It's little wonder, because Asia and all the rich facets of it's culture are slowly permeating Western consciousness. Asia also has a major commercial influence, what with Prada joining the ever-increasing ranks of companies choosing to list in Hong Kong as opposed to their home markets.

This collection draws on a LOT of Asian influences (butoh, Kazuo Ohno, anime, embroidery, cranes, dragons... the list goes on) but I'm really interested in (as far as my incredibly amateurish, untrained eyes can see) the samurai and origami influences.

Japanese samurai circa 1870
When you go on websites that feature this collection and the insano, day-glo Philip Treacy headgear, the comments section is inevitably clogged with cries of 'VIKING!' - you can really see the influence of the samurai helmets.  Irrelevant note alert - One of my favourite places to go in the V&A Museum in London is the Japanese section to look at all the samurai uniform.  It's all so intricate and well crafted.  Every aspect of the samurai uniform is carefully considered; every colour, every fold, every image has a cultural or practical significance.  Perhaps it's this attention to detail that aligns it so well with Givenchy.

Samurai circa 1880
You can really see the samurai and origami influences in the sharpness and angularity of the shoulders.  The pink motif above looks like it could be a representation of a samurai helmet (or a backpack in the shape of a bug if you think about it in a Rorschach kinda way).  I love the pristine whiteness of this dress.  It's like a fresh piece of paper begging to be folded into all sorts of magical shapes.

Origami samurai helmets
The headgear made so much more sense when I saw these mini samurai helmets made out of paper.  I know that it's supposed to be based on robots... but I like thinking it's an origami samurai helmet.  Let me have my wrongfooted delusion, ok?  Here is a link if you want to make a tiny samurai helmet and wear it on your finger.

I'm not very good at conclusions, so let me just say that the Givenchy collection is beautiful and batshit crazy.  Just the way I like it.