THEY arrived wearing their best Zara and J.Crew outfits, hardly able to believe their luck at scooping free tickets to the most hotly anticipated event of New York Fashion Week.
To celebrate the opening of Givenchy’s flagship store in Manhattan, members of the public were invited to mingle on Friday night with fashion editors and celebrities like Kim and Kanye, Julia Roberts and Nicky Minaj at the French fashion brand’s runway show.
It was the first time in 63 years that Givenchy has shown its collection outside Paris and both fashion experts and first-timers left exhilarated by a collection that was the perfect mix of haute couture and street wear.
Always on the front line of fashion, flamboyant creative director Riccardo Tisci sent out wave after wave of models in ethereally beautiful black, and white dresses made of lace, silk and satin, reminiscent of quietly glamorous lingerie.
There were elegantly glam frock coats with ribbons deliberately trailing on the ground, pyjama-like trousers, waistcoats and feathered or glittery sequinned vests.
One model wore an evening dress that looked as if it was made out of the hide of a golden lizard while veteran model Joan Smalls looked breathtaking in a dramatic black evening ensemble with a huge pouffy skirt.
Some models wore dramatic jewelled or feathered masks to match their gowns.
Male models stomped down the runway in the open-air setting of a pier on the Hudson River in a variety of edgy suits. A few wore shorts, while one brave model wore a skirt.
No, Caitlyn Jenner did not walk the runway as had been rumoured but Kendall Jenner, with startlingly blonde eyebrows, led the model parade as big sis Kim - dressed in a see-through pregnancy outfit made by Givenchy – looked on proudly from the front row.
The celebrity-studded show was also an artistic event, overseen by performance artist Marina Abramovic. Actors appeared on platforms above the audience, a monk chanted hypnotically and there was music from six different cultures and religions.
Mindful of the fact that the show was being held on the 14th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Abramovic said the theme of the Givenchy show was “forgiveness, inclusivity…. and love.”
As the models did a final march in treacherous heels – at least two fell on the runway that was constructed from wooden pallets - a soprano sang Ave Maria as a blue light pierced the sky from the World Trade Centre site.
Tisci, who continues to re-invent the historic fashion house for a new generation, appeared briefly to accept a standing ovation from the audience before heading for the after-party.
Fashion editors departed, agreeing that the democratic fashion show had been “beautiful,” while ecstatic first-timers like 19-year-old fashion student Maria Gruber described it as a dream come true. “It’s been really inspiring and makes me even more determined to have a career in fashion,” she said.
By Barbara McMahon