Givenchy Show New York

What will Riccardo Tisci do next? This was the question on the minds of the designer’s loyal fashion fans as they settled into their seats along the Hudson River pier at tonight’s Givenchy show—and that growing spirit of anticipation didn’t stop at the neck: On the heels of last season’s darkly romantic Victorian collection, where models’ elaborate facial jewelry culminated in a heart-stoppingly provocative expression of beauty that nearly stole the show, the idea of upping the proverbial ante seemed like a bit of a tall order. And yet leave it to Tisci, always the contrarian, to suddenly flip the script: With the dim of the lights and the clang of a bell, Mariacarla Boscono stepped onto the runway—her hair falling straight over her shoulders and her skin stripped almost bare.

Just a few hours earlier, makeup artist Pat McGrath had foreshadowed the sharp change of pace backstage. “Riccardo wanted a softness, but also a strangeness,” she said of the decision to treat skin with a bit of concealer, a swipe of brown mascara on the upper lashes, and a “grayish brown smolder of shadow around the eye” before bleaching the brows blonde for a supernatural effect. Only two girls—Joan Smalls and Imaan Hammam—were being prepped to wear a trace of color in the form of a vinyl-lacquered deep red lip.

But then what to make of the velvet shrouded area tucked discreetly in the far corner, where makeup assistants were slipping in and out of a hidden room holding trays filled with sparkling embellishments? With a sweep of the curtain, McGrath revealed five more models that had been designated with a special purpose. Each one sat patiently as a team of artists used beads and fabric to construct the elaborate ivory-color face masks that McGrath had dreamed up with Tisci for the occasion over the course of the previous week; still another model was having a series of gold and black graphic metal slivers crafted into a gleaming headpiece that wrapped around her ears.

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