On Thursday it was announced that Riccardo Tisci would leave Givenchy after 12 years at the house. (The brand will not show its spring/summer 2017 collection in Paris on March 5 as planned.) Here, T rounds up 10 highlights from his time at the helm.
1) He Defined a Signature Look for Givenchy
Over his 12 years there, Tisci designed Givenchy’s women’s wear, couture and, beginning with the spring/summer 2009 season, men’s wear collections. Tisci, who grew up Catholic in Southern Italy, brought a self-described “dark romanticism” to the house, and relied heavily on religious iconography throughout his time there, using madonna-and-child motifs on T-shirts and sweatshirts. But he also injected several other themes into his work: He used animal prints, such as Rottweilers and panthers, throughout his collections — as well as florals. “People call me a Gothic designer — I don’t think I am,” Tisci told the New York Times’s Cathy Horyn in 2007. “I love romanticism and sensuality, maybe because I come from a family with eight sisters. I’m also a person who is very emotional. I like black, I like white. I never like what’s in the middle. And the runway is where I try to transmit this.”
2) He Was Something of a Red-Carpet Whisperer
Tisci’s designs became practically synonymous with award shows, galas — or, really, wherever a celebrity was wearing clothes. He has dressed countless celebrities, including Michelle Obama, Cate Blanchett and Julia Roberts. Madonna sported his designs on red carpets (she wore a design with no derrière to the Met Gala), at her concerts (Tisci created pieces for her 2008 “Sticky & Sweet” tour) as well as at the Super Bowl (he outfitted her for her 2012 performance, above center). Beyoncé wore his designs to the Met Gala for five years in a row, most notably a dress made entirely out of latex (above left) last year. As Tisci told the New York Times’s Jacob Bernstein: “I don’t dress celebrities for the sake of dressing celebrities. I dress people I like.”
3) He Pushed Unorthodox Ideas of Beauty
Tisci cast his transgender Brazilian-born personal assistant and fit model, Leandra Medeiros Cerezo, in Givenchy’s fall/winter 2010 campaign, introducing her to the fashion world; she dubbed herself Lea T, the “T” standing for “Tisci” because she felt a part of the designer’s family. Tisci continued to promote Lea T as the face of Givenchy, and they paved the way for what most might consider to be nonconventional models. (She has also thrived outside the walls of the French fashion house, becoming the first transgender face of Redken and even appearing on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”) Tisci championed untraditional ideas of beauty across the board — booking the albino model Stephen Thompson and countless androgynous talents.
4) …And His Models Didn’t Always Look “Pretty”
A Givenchy catwalk meant dramatic transformations. In earlier years, that took the form of sticker-like mustaches (fall 2006 couture) and bleached eyebrows (spring 2007 couture). For fall 2015, he played with elaborate facial jewelry and baby hairs, and the following season, he sent models down the runway with feathers, pearls and gems (above) affixed to their faces.
5) His Collaborations With Nike Helped Put Athleisure on the Map
It’s no coincidence that the term “athleisure” began to take root in fashion circles around 2014: That was the year Tisci began what would become a multiseason collaboration with Nike, starting with a much-hyped revamp of its iconic Air Force 1 sneaker that spring. Since then, he’s lent his spin to models including the Dunk and Zoom Legend — and created a vivid collection of workout wear, too (above), pegged to last year’s Olympics in Rio. Tisci has long been interested in — and inspired by — streetwear, turning out T-shirts and sweatshirts alongside highly tailored pieces and gowns since the early 2010s.
6) During His Tenure, Givenchy Has Been a Commercial Powerhouse
According to figures cited by WWD, Givenchy’s current revenues — more than $540 million — represent more than a sixfold increase since Tisci became creative director in 2005. Givenchy’s parent company, LVMH, touts the brand as one of its best performers in investor materials, and Givenchy now has retail locations in 25 countries.
7) Among His Many Famous Fans, None Are More Devoted Than Kim Kardashian and Kanye West
Givenchy has been the go-to brand for Kimye throughout Tisci’s tenure, and the couple has tapped the designer for big style moments throughout their relationship. In 2013, the year Tisci co-chaired the Met Gala, a pregnant Kardashian famously attended for the first time in a much-debated Givenchy gown that covered her in a floral print from neck to fingertips (except, of course, for a thigh-high slit). West had his own controversial Givenchy moment six months earlier, when he donned a pleated leather skirt and matching pants for a benefit concert in New York City. And the lovebirds returned to Tisci for their wedding day in 2014: West wore a Givenchy tux and Kardashian wore a custom long-sleeved lace gown. (Their daughter, North, matched mom.)
8) He Paid Moving Tribute to Sept. 11
In 2015, Tisci broke from tradition, opting to show his women’s spring/summer 2016 collection not in Paris, but in New York on the anniversary of 9/11. He staged the show outside on Pier 26, in the shadow of the Freedom Tower, and worked with the artist Marina Abramovic on the staging (silent performers stood atop pillars on an austere set) to pay respectful tribute. The collection featured only white and black — and as Vanessa Friedman wrote at the time, the show demonstrated “the power of fashion to reflect history and shared experience; to weave it, literally, into the garments we all wear; and to find beauty in its future — six months hence, and beyond.”
9) He Collaborated With Artists Across Disciplines
Tisci has evinced interest in a number of different creative modes. He worked with Kehinde Wiley on the artist’s “An Economy of Grace” series, designing gowns for Wiley’s subjects to wear; and in 2013, he created a line of sweatshirts with the artist Benjamin Shine, featuring madonna-and-child iconography rendered in tulle. And the 9/11 show wasn’t the first time he’d paired up with Marina Abramovic; he tapped her for a feature in the edition of Visionaire he guest-edited in 2011, too. Meanwhile, his mutual-appreciation society with the hip-hop world has been consistently documented in its lyrics — and made manifest when he created the ornate, gilded album art (above right) for Jay Z and Kanye West’s “Watch the Throne” in 2011, along with custom tees for the rappers’ tour. Speaking of stagewear, he’s designed costumes for everyone from the Opéra Garnier’s ballet corps to Rihanna to, um, the singing Japanese hologram Hatsune Miku. (Why not?)
10) He May Be Done at Givenchy — But It’s Unclear Where He’ll Go Next
Tisci didn’t renew his contract and separated from Givenchy on an amicable basis. His exit stokes speculation that he is headed to Versace. (He and Donatella are close, and she even posed for a Givenchy campaign in 2015.) However, there have been whispers about Tisci’s movements for years; he was also rumored to be in the running for Frida Giannini’s post when she left Gucci in 2014.
Riccardo Tisci Leaves Givenchy: What It Means