06/29/2012 04:34 EDT | Updated 08/29/2012 05:12 EDT

Givenchy looks to the Virgin Mary in a church-inspired menswear show in Paris

PARIS - Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci produced an ecclesiastical tour-de-force Friday with a religion-inspired menswear collection for spring-summer 2013.

Incense wafted from the sidelines and organ music set the scene in a show that played with the layers of priestly garb.

Shows by Tisci always contain a shock factor. Here it came in the form of sleeveless tops and jackets printed with effigies of the Virgin Mary with a black bar over her eyes.

Jesus sandals — de rigueur for all the models — bore spiky chains.

"I'm going back to my roots," Tisci, an Italian Catholic, told The Associated Press. "It's about Communion, but a sex version of it."

Silhouettes were knee-length or at the hip. The longer looks in black, white and blood red descended like columns, with cassock undergarments hanging underneath.

Some of the shorter looks worked best, such as a printed T-shirt paired with a jacket — also featuring Virgin imagery — that opened up like a Catholic triptych.

Creative attention was paid to the top of the body, with paneling or lapels hanging from the front or back. Legs were superfluous in unremarkable slim-fitting dark pants or knee-length shorts.

The sheer volume of clothes was unusual for a spring show, but Tisci rarely follows the rules.

In any case, the fashionistas didn't seem to mind.

"It's great to see so many clothes on the runway," former French Vogue Editor Carine Roitfeld said, sitting on the front row. "Each season he becomes stronger and stronger."


Thomas Adamson can be followed at