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- 21 Jun 2010
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Givenchy Pulls Couture from the Runway


Givenchy explores new ways to give couture the showcase it deserves.

The future of couture has been a popular subject for fashionable debate in recent times with many commentators doubtful about whether the ‘golden age of couture’ can ever be restored. Riccardo Tisci, Givenchy couturier since 2005, believes that as a business couture needs to look backwards in order to move forwards: “After a crisis, a new era always starts. It’s going to be a very good moment for creativity. For couture, it’s going to go back to being very exclusive.”

Givenchy believes that by putting “special, high level service” and personalisation at the heart of couture, they may have found the remedy to the problems plaguing the specialism. So the iconic Parisian house is saying ‘au revoir’ to the runway and a fresh ‘bonjour’ to the clients and editors who will be invited to individual appointments from July 6.

And the re-thinking of couture does not stop there. Tisci plans to edit the couture line down to 10 key looks which will be installed in a romantic 18th century town house in the very appropriate Place Vendôme. Understandably, given the price tags, almost 70% of couture purchased is altered in some way, so a small, adaptable line also seems like a savvy commercial decision.

While the ‘front row’ is now just as prodigiously photographed as the runway itself, with attendees seemingly competing in the glamour stakes with each other as well as the models, Tisci also hopes that the new system will appeal to Givenchy’s most devoted and discreet couture clients who do not attend the shows for privacy and security reasons. It is refreshing, almost quaintly old-fashioned, to think that individuals remain who are not solely preoccupied with self-promotion!

While the runway represents fashion at its most theatrical and spectacular, Tisci believes that the intimacy of private appointments will engender a stronger connection with the designs: “People can really experience the couture moment: See it, touch it.”

Givenchy will also be hoping that this “experience” translates into sales since the house are keen to stress that they are not simply making the most of a cost-saving measure. In fact Tisci claims that his presentation which will include live models as well as mannequins; an artistic look book shot by photographer Willy Vanderperre and featuring top models including ‘muse of the moment’ Lara Stone, will probably tot up to 35% more than a traditional runway show.

As part of Givenchy’s revitalised approach to couture, the house also revealed plans to mount high-level collaborations, starting with fine jewellery next season. The difficulties couture has faced in recent times and the resultant dwindling in the number of couturiers means that the Chambre Syndicale has added a day to the calendar dedicated to the highest end jewellery. Boucheron, Chaumet and Van Cleef are among the names who will be unveiling new collections on July 8. Givenchy are yet to reveal who they will be collaborating with. Could it be one of these world leaders, or will it be a smaller, equally artisanal brand? We will find out soon when Givenchy put their hopeful plans into practice.