WINGS OF DESIRE Riccardo Tisci’s decade at Givenchy has seen him reach new heights as a designer, with a potent blend of luxury fashion and street style, religious rituals and performance art. By Justine Picardie. Photographed by Tom Craig.
Timing is everything in fashion, whether achieved by good luck or grand design. This is a business that must look to the future, while also celebrating its past; crafting heritage and history into a desirable modern commodity that will appeal to customers six months or more after its creation. And so it was that Riccardo Tisci celebrated his decade at Givenchy not in Paris, but in New York, with a Spring/Summer ’ 16 collection that was staged at sunset on September 11. The legacy of 9/11 was all too clear, given the show’s location: on a pier jutting out into the Hudson River, overlooking the memorial on the site of the original World Trade Center that was destroyed in the terrorist attacks of 2001. The audience included members of the public, as well as the fashion press and a host of Tisci’s celebrity friends (Naomi Campbell, Julia Roberts, and Courtney Love, among others). As the hullaballoo increased around the late-arriving Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, the heartfelt message of the programme notes seemed in danger of being obscured: “This event that we are creating together is about forgiveness, inclusivity, new life, hope, and above all, love.”
These words had been written by the performance artist Marina Abramović, Tisci’s close friend and collaborator as artistic director of the show; and despite the surrounding commotion, they somehow succeeded in their stated aim. The clothes were worn by a range of models from around the world—a number of them, such as Joan Smalls, championed by Tisci from the start of their careers—against a backdrop of recycled wood and debris, to a soundtrack of traditional songs from six different cultures and religions (Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, Arabic, Indian, and Greek Orthodox).
Tisci’s collection was beautiful rather than revolutionary—black tuxedos worn with delicate lacetrimmed slip dresses; fine ivory silks softening the pinstripe tailoring; the high drama of gothic evening gowns offset by restrained suiting—but the resulting sense of emotion was genuine. By the finale, an elegiac performance of “Ave
Riccardo Tisci at the BAZAAR shoot, fashioned to
reflect his gothic-futuristic creations