a stranger in paris

John Galliano's debut has sent shock waves through the genteel house of Givenchy. Tamsin Blanchard reports overleaf

Tamsin Blanchard
Saturday 04 May 1996 23:02

only John Galliano would have the audacity to drag loyal customers, who have grown old in the prim suits and trim dresses of Hubert de Givenchy, to an industrial estate on the outskirts of Paris. That was where, in March, he showed his first ready-to-wear collection since taking over at the House. Many of the elegant old-timers, who would be eligible for bus passes if they did not have chauffeurs to drive them around, were curious to see if Galliano would keep them in mind for a collection that has always suited their needs just perfectly.

Most left the show relatively happy. Gone were the shoulder pads and air hostess suits that had become a Givenchy staple. In their place were flatteringly tailored skirt suits with the Givenchy signature bows perched on each of the four jacket pockets. The frilled polka-dot blouses were still there, but souped-up and more coquettish. And for the woman who is not keen to wear a frill, no matter who designed it, a plain black smoking suit is a timeless investment.

The collection promises to attract a new kind of customer as well. For the first time, Harvey Nichols will stock the line, as will Browns, the store that has supported Galliano since his student days.

The clothes shown here will be in the stores from June. Prices are high, but the workmanship and attention to detail are superb. For under pounds 1,000, you can have a black cocktail gown with a train from shoulder to hem, in homage to Audrey Hepburn. And that, surely, is the essence of Givenchy. !

This page: lime-green knitted dress, pounds 530, by Givenchy, at Browns, 23-27 South Molton Street, London W1, and Harvey Nichols, Brompton Road, SW1. Natural tights, pounds 8.95,

by Hue, at Dickins & Jones, Regent Street, W1, and

Selfridges, Oxford Street, W1; for stockists nationwide,

tel: 0181 858 9718.

Brown high-heel court shoes, pounds 285, at Manolo Blahnik,

49-51 Old Church Street, SW3;

tel: 0171 352 3863.

Opposite page: navy skirt suit with half-bow detail on pockets, pounds 1,200, by Givenchy, as before

Navy wide-leg wool trousers, pounds 670, collared navy and white sweater, pounds 410, and navy belted wool jacket, pounds 1,080, all by Givenchy, as before

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