Yesterday, news broke that Riccardo Tisci was exiting Givenchy, the house he’d helmed since 2005. Back in 2015, we celebrated Riccardo’s 10-year anniversary at the house by looking back at his 10 most iconic Givenchy pieces.
Staying at the top of a major fashion house for 12 years is no mean feat, given the revolving-door madness that the fashion industry is prone to, so with that in mind, we’re re-visiting the retrospective we wrote two years previously. Arrivederci Riccardo, we miss your devilishly handsome looks and obsession with religious iconography already.
While Riccardo’s next move is as-yet unconfirmed, there’s rumors he’s heading over to Versace. Keep track of Tisci’s movements here.
As the revolving door of Europe’s top fashion houses spins ever faster, many of those placed in the creative director’s chair have struggled to really leave their mark before departing for pastures new. Riccardo Tisci is one huge exception to this rule.
The Italian-born designer has remained loyal to Givenchy since his appointment in 2005 and, in the process, defined a brave, successful new identity for the brand entirely of his own creation. This year will see Tisci celebrate his 10th anniversary at the French fashion house’s helm – a feat that’s becoming increasingly rare. In that time he’s grown the brand’s couture business at a staggering rate, having modernized the Givenchy aesthetic for an entirely new generation of customers and led the way in a pioneering new approach to menswear that introduced nuances of streetwear for the first time.
Born in Taranto, a small town in Southern Italy, fatherless and the youngest of nine siblings – all of whom were female – Tisci escaped to London at the age of 19. There he attended the prestigious Central St. Martins, while working odd jobs to pay his way through school and soaking up the hedonistic club scene of the British capital in the ’90s. In 2005, he found himself at Givenchy heading up the label’s ready-to-wear and haute couture women’s lines, before taking responsibility for accessories and menswear three years later.
Tisci’s influence not only on the legacy of Givenchy but on fashion as a whole has been considerable. In 2010, he was the first designer to send a transgender model down the catwalk. Two years later, his use of neo-gothic religious imagery in his Spring/Summer ’13 menswear show snowballed into one of the biggest fashion phenomena of the decade. It’s this desire to constantly reassess concepts of femininity and beauty, along with his wide-ranging array of reference points, that has made Tisci such a multi-faceted designer.
In celebration of his 10th anniversary at Givenchy, we’ve rounded up 10 items that sum up a decade of Riccardo Tisci.
When Givenchy dropped this shirt and subsequent accessories emblazoned with the word “PERVERT” and number 17, many dismissed it as a contrived attempt at being provocative. In fact, it was an homage to one of the greatest pre-internet streetwear brands ever. Operating throughout the early ’90s in Miami, Pervert’s subversive output included a heady blend of hip-hop references, much like the work of Givenchy under Tisci. The designer has never been shy about his love of streetwear, calling on it repeatedly over the years as both a subtle and not-so-subtle reference point for his collections.
Nike Air Force 1 Collaboration
Arguably one of the most hyped collaborative projects of 2014, Riccardo Tisci’s reimagining of the iconic Air Force 1 was perhaps the crowning example of how high-fashion can be married credibly with sportswear. Although Nike were at pains to point out that this collaboration was with Riccardo himself, not his storied fashion house, the crossover elements between the two were impossible to ignore. As well as applying colorful accents to the shoes in telltale Givenchy shades, Riccardo also created two striking new silhouettes for the collection – a rare honor that recognized his personal status and longstanding love of the iconic shoe.
Kanye West’s assumption of a Givenchy leather kilt throughout his Watch the Throne tour with Jay Z in 2011 was a seminal moment for hip-hop fashion. West, a long time friend of Tisci, embraced the designer’s androgynous vision with a look that would that would have likely caused a critical meltdown had it come 10 years earlier. As it was, the look went on to pave the way for a new kind of experimentation in hip-hop fashion, the likes of which the genre had never seen before.
Shark Tooth Necklace
Throughout his career at Givenchy, Tisci has often employed a sense of playfulness to offset his otherwise dark, melancholy leanings. His Sharktooth necklace – essentially a super luxury version of a tacky gift-store memento – is the perfect example of this, subverting the notion of ubiquity in an elegant and desirable manner.
While countless high-fashion brands have taken to using bold graphic prints in recent years, there are few more adept at this than Givenchy. Such an eye for bold prints resulted in this 2011 sweatshirt, making use of a menacing Rottweiler portrait. The style soon went onto to become a firm favorite within both the fashion and music scenes, spawning countless imitations, replicas and attempts to replicate its success.
Riccardo Tisci’s 2011 “Rico-Fit” suit managed to combine all the elegance of his haute-couture offerings – arguably where he has had the most success at Givenchy – with his uncanny ability to appeal to the everyman. Made exclusively for the Japanese market, the slim tailoring coupled with soft tweed fabric exhibited aspects of Tisci’s skill set that so often go unnoticed amid all the brash and attention-grabbing statement pieces.
Spring/Summer ’13 saw Givenchy unveil a series of neo-gothic religious prints that would, in turn, spark a trend so strong that its reverberations were felt throughout almost all tiers of the fashion world. From hip-hop trendsetters to small boutique labels and major high-street chains, everyone became obsessed with the pseudo-religious look, although Tisci had been experimenting with it for years. By the following season, Givenchy had already moved on, leaving all the latecomers to scrabble over the dregs of a trend that Riccardo ushered in almost single-handedly.
Tisci’s seductive paisley-print take on the classic bomber jacket showed his ability to take a relatively common menswear staple and apply his own highbrow sensibilities. Released as part of his Fall/Winter ’14 collection, the jacket’s otherwise rugged aesthetic was juxtaposed with a luxurious-looking print that epitomized the growing presence of streetwear in the world of high fashion – and vice versa.
“Everybody says I’m the king of darkness… but at the end of the day I’m quite a sweet dreamer. I’m obsessed with cartoons and romance,” Tisci recently revealed in an interview with i-D magazine. This aspect of his personality was certainly on show when he created the Bambi tee – part of a full capsule collection that featured the iconic Disney character – only, in classic Tisci style, juxtaposed it with an eerie romantic oil painting that darkened the tone considerably. Without doubt one of the biggest “must have” items of 2013.
Tisci’s love of garish florals has become a his calling card – or one of them, at least. Yet, while this stomach-churningly loud print can be found splashed across everything from Kim Kardashian’s lavish Met Gala pregnancy ballgown to premium high-top sneakers, it’s perhaps best known as the basis for one of Tisci’s most iconic accessory designs: the floral backpack. Having since been reimagined in numerous different blooms and colors, this has become a staple of Tisci’s unapologetically in-your-face approach to fashion – one that’s both loved and loathed in equal measure.