Givenchy's Fashion Evolution
High collars, slim trousers, structured skirts, intricate detailing and a severe monochromatic colour scheme, dripping with chains or jet black beads, Riccardo Tisci's collections for Givenchy are often described as gothic by the fashion editors. The designer protests they misunderstand him, preferring instead the epithet 'romantic'. Sometimes with a touch of Victoriana, or a murmur of the work of film director and illustrator Tim Burton, they are modern and clean rather than fusty – and, crucially, they sell.
Madonna was an early adopter of this not-particularly-well-known name when Tisci was named Creative Director for Givenchy in 2005. Givenchy, of course, is one of the few fashion houses to produce haute couture collections as well as ready to wear and in this rarefied world, the Italian designer was able to expand the client base five-fold within two years of his arrival at the brand, with his young clientele delighted by his darkly desirable vision.
Previous to Tisci’s appointment, one could be forgiven for wondering if the top job at the revered couture house was something of a poisoned chalice, with neither John Galliano, Julien MacDonald or Alexander McQueen – all hugely successful at their respective labels – choosing to stay more than a few seasons at this towering bastion of Paris fashion.
Certainly, the founder Hubert De Givenchy had set the bar extraordinarily high during his own lifetime. He was known for his serious demeanor, the depth of his obsession with clothing, his friendship with couturier’s couturier Cristobel Balenciaga and most importantly of all, his ongoing collaboration with Hollywood star and muse, Audrey Hepburn.
In many ways, he set the template back in the ‘50s for what is now an accepted relationship for many designers and celebrities. Givenchy dressed Hepburn for her most well-known films – ‘Funny Face’ and ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ – as well as for public appearances, which all helped raise her profile as a movie star and brought the collections to life as she became a figurehead who embodied the spirit of the brand. Mr Givenchy also created a perfume, initially exclusively for Hepburn, which was then known as l’interdit when made available to the public.