Givenchy unveils its man of the future in Florence
As a guest of honour at Pitti Uomo, Givenchy was a big hit on Wednesday evening with a punchy show that was immersed in the lush greenery of a huge park, that of the Villa Palmieri. The 14th century edifice stands on the hills of Fiesole, which are planted with olive trees. The villa is not far from Florence and has 25 hectares of gardens. The creative director of LVMH’s Parisian brand, Clare Waight Keller, could not have dreamt of a more evocative setting in which to show her first standalone menswear collection for Givenchy.
Guests were scattered around, settled on lawn chairs in the garden and in the more remote areas of the park, under arbours, by a pond, or along a gravel path. Then, guests suddenly heard the tone of someone dialling a phone number followed by a count to infinity accompanied by techno music.
In the glow of the twilight, the first models walked out on the runway at a swift pace, weaving in between palm trees, magnolias, and lemon trees, along low, well trimmed hedges, before ending their marathon on a gentle lawn slope, then disappearing into a grove.
The Givenchy man is slender and sporty, perfectly equipped for an exercise such as this. No classic shoes for him but instead snowshoe-esque sneakers, ranger’s boots, or white sneakers to give him a sporty attitude, complete with aviator sunglasses and thick chains worn at the belt.
He is agile in anorak-vests made from ultra-light and bright metallic Korean textiles. He is also delicately enveloped in parachute windbreakers. Dark hued nylon velvet parkas, long and shiny and a deep bottom-of-the-sea blue, almost resembled a liquid and were particularly desirable.
This spring/ summer 2020 does not, however, only offer sportswear, far from it. Silver brocade coats added a touch of luxury to outfits while numerous suits were also featured and were available in different silhouettes including shorter and fitted closer to the body and with maxi-jackets and wide-flared trousers.
Clare Waight Keller worked on the collection’s trousers in particular, a key piece of the male wardrobe. She imagined them in a dozen of different styles while jackets were unstructured with a big return of the three-button model with supple shoulders. There was also a strong influence from the 1990s, a decade that particularly inspires the British designer.
It was a sort of trip back in time across the world upon which Clare Waight Keller invited us, from the 19th century to the digital era, from Paris to the Florentine hills. The collection was inspired on the one hand by Baudelaire’s “Fleurs du Mal” with a cursed poetic feel, illustrated by a trench coat worn topless with black trousers and a thin scarf tied around the neck, and on the other by streetwear fixed firmly in its time. The designer painted a picture of her vision of a man through 60 looks, some showcased by women.
“The Givenchy man is a mix of different styles, both dark and romantic with a touch of British aristocracy but at the same time with a modern attitude. Without forgetting the element of poetry. But he’s also an eclectic man and every silhouette has its own attitude,” said the designer as large, white balloons floating above the trees were tinged red and the music grew louder for what promised to be a long night of festivities.
With this memorable show, Pitti Uomo and Florence offered Givenchy a unique opportunity to bring its man to the fore before it returns to the Parisian runway calendar in January 2020. With its menswear, the brand is looking to project itself into the future, in particular by offering collaborations with other iconic brands. For example, Givenchy collaborated with the Japanese shoe manufacturer Onitsuka Tiger this season to revisit its famous “Mexico 66” model of sneakers. Two versions of the shoe, one black and one white, were shown on the runway on Wednesday and will be launched on Thursday.
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