“I would never get close to celebrities for strategic reasons”, Riccardo Tisci exclusive confidences
Rihanna, Julia Roberts, Donatella Versace, Kim Kardashian… Riccardo Tisci, Givenchy's artistic director, speaks about his privileged relationship with fashion, art and music celebrities.
At Givenchy, you’ve attracted a young clientele with your sophisticated T-shirts and sweatshirts, which have become cult objects. Are they as important in your view as haute-couture gowns?
They’re there because I was like all the young people who dream about fashion. I was obsessed by Helmut Lang, and though I couldn’t afford to buy a jacket, I saved up to buy a pair of jeans. When I came to Givenchy, I made my intentions clear straight away: “Of course we have to make haute-couture gowns for the wealthiest clients, you have to make people dream because this is a luxury house. But let’s also offer clothing for the young – jeans, T-shirts, sweatshirts, trainers, rucksacks.” To spread love, you have to think beyond the richest fringe of the world’s population. So many people work hard – they should be able to join the “Givenchy gang” if they want, and more generally the “fashion gang.”
Marina Abramovic is part of your “gang,” a group of friends to whom you remain loyal, which also includes Beyoncé, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. All of these people, who you’ve been close to for years, have contributed to the Givenchy image.
I would never get close to celebrities for strategic reasons. The only people I’m close to are those who I respect, who I open my heart to. Perhaps it’s my Catholic upbringing. I supported Kim at a time when most fashion houses weren’t in the least interested in her. Now she’s become one of the most powerful women in the world. I welcomed her into my heart the very first day, and into the house of Givenchy too.
Your Instagram account reflects your sincerity, since there’s no hierarchical distinction between photos of your famous friends and pictures of your family in Italy.
It was Rihanna who introduced me to Instagram. I’d made costumes for one of her tours, and she showed me her account saying, “Look, I’ve posted this photo to thank you.” I’m not really into all the new technologies, but I quickly realized that Instagram could be used intelligently. I use it to send a positive message, to show the beauty of the world, to inspire people, and not to show off my glamorous life. It’s thanks to my mother that I’ve become the person I am, so it’s normal for me to post a picture of her, just as I’ll post a photo of Madonna or Beyoncé – we all understand the power of love. I can’t change the world, but I think we can all bring a positive message.
You say you can’t change the world, but you were the first designer at the head of a contemporary luxury label to break with elitism and exclusivity.
I don’t like to be judged, just as I don’t like judging people. I like the courage it takes to be yourself, and I want to encourage that. Karl Lagerfeld said to me one day, “Anyone would think you’d come straight out of the French Revolution.” And it’s true, I’m never ashamed of supporting people, I’m constantly trying to break down new barriers. One example was when I ran campaigns with [transsexual model] Lea T. And may I take the opportunity to thank you, because we made a beautiful image of her with Jean-Baptiste Mondino for the 100th edition of Numéro. I wanted to show Lea’s beauty and to prove that transsexuals aren’t necessarily prostitutes. Sadly, in 2015, they’re still not accepted by society, and it’s difficult for them to find work. This is a cause that touches me deeply, as does violence towards women. I have eight sisters, I was brought up by women. If one of them were to fall victim to violence, I think it would kill me.
How do you choose the faces for your campaigns, which have included such diverse personalities as Erykah Badu, Julia Roberts and Donatella Versace?
They are all incredible women who I respect deeply. It’s often said that fashion is superficial, but it’s not so much the beauty as the intelligence and self confidence of these women that I wanted to celebrate. Julia Roberts had never been the face of a fashion campaign. As for Donatella, she’s the queen! She welcomed me with open arms when I first started in fashion, when I was still unknown. I was tired of the eternal quarrels over copies and originals. It was the first time a fashion designer celebrated another designer in an advertising campaign. It was a big deal. And a powerful message of love.
Interivew by Delphine Roche.
Check out the full article in the February issue of Numéro, in stands and available in our iPad app on January 26th.