The Times had a great interview with Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci. Give it a read when you get a chance. It’s wonderful listening to him explain his vision.
Q. The first shows that I saw of yours in Italy were very quiet, and almost religious with all those lighted candles. I have heard you say that Italians love three things: sex, football and religion. What do you go for?
Me, I’m religion. I grew up in a family from South Italy, from Taranto, and I lived a very tough life as a kid, because I missed my father when I was very little. I had this fantastic mother with eight sisters. I’ve never been missing love in my life, but the one thing that really gave me the strength to become what I am today is religion, belief. It doesn’t matter from which religion you come from, it’s that you believe in something.
Q. Let’s take you back to your childhood. This little town of yours is on the side of a cliff….
A. This little city — super-beautiful, super-baroque, very dark in a way. Very South Italian city, with a legend about finding mermaids swimming in the water. It’s the Italy that not many people know — foreigners think about Sardinia, this beautiful paradise, or Sicily.
Taranto is very dark because it’s very related to religion, but at the same time people are really happy and joyful and they party a lot, which is part of my personality. I’ve got darkness in my style, because it comes from processions, veils, the Virgin Maria, crosses and all that suffering part of religion, which I love. And then I’ve got the happiness part of my life, which is the happy part of Riccardo Tisci.
Q. This privileged and private couture event seems a long way from your shows with Courtney Love sitting in the front row and singing at the after party. Are you growing up?
A. This season I decided to go back to the roots of the house and to do a little collection, more concentrated as a message and on cut and shape.
I want to present 10 very specific looks, a strong identity of what I’ve been doing in last five years, and by appointment, like it used to be in the old times, during the ’50s or the ’60s. Couture for me is very special, something that has to be given time, very personal.
Q. Why do you think imaginative and inventive Italian designers have to come to Paris to flower?
A. If I would have to say thank you to a country in my life, it would have to be England, because this was where I was able to study. The second one is India, because that is where I started my first collection, and the third one is France, because they accepted me and they allowed me to be at Givenchy. At the same time, Italy is an amazing country and I’m very proud to be Italian, I’m very glad to have Italy in my life.
Q. You talk about family. Do you believe in the family of fashion?
A. I am 35 years old and I really think the important thing in my daily life is family. It is very important in life, to have people that you believe and believe in you.
I’m always surrounded by women. Woman is the biggest expression of my life, my muses: Mariacarla [Bosconi, the model], Marina Abramovic [the artist], Courtney Love. Even my team is mostly women. Why? Because I always felt at home around women, since I was a little kid; most of my friends were girls. Growing up with my sisters, I’m always attracted to strong women.
Women, in Italy, they say, do not wear the trousers. But women there are very strong; they know what they want. And that has been the success of my life.
Q. Are the men you showed in the last month’s show the guys that your couture women go out with?
A. My woman is so strong, so confident of her sexuality, so confident of her decisions that she can play with both worlds. She can wear a tuxedo with a romantic shirt; she can wear a jacket, like a men’s jacket, with a mini-dress and high heels.
Q. When you talk about your dark side coming from religion, there’s not much darkness in this haute couture collection. It starts off all white with no black at all! Is this your happy side?
A. You know, dark for me is not always black, it’s not only dark colors, it’s not about goth and black cloth. It’s much more mental.
This collection is languid, the shape is like a drop on the body. There is a tuxedo jacket, which is something I’ve been doing for the past few seasons — short in the front and curved but very dramatic in the back. It’s like having a cape on top of a long black priest dress.
It’s a lot of crosses. I’ve got zippers that open the dress, a chemisier that crosses the body at the waist and on the front. Other than that, I’ve been working in all gold, which I’ve never done before. It is always about a pattern, embroidered on this garment for church, for liturgy, for a pope.
I think it’s less dark. It’s not black — for the first time in my collection in 10 years of my career. The darkest color is brown; it’s from brown to white.
It’s difficult for me to do a collection that is from Look 1 to 50 completely different colors, because my way of working is about believing one thing and developing it to the end. This season is mostly about salmon, flesh colors, beige.
It’s my romantic side, but the concept is very gothic and very dark.