Thursday, 3 September 2015


Yesterday was a momentous day for the house of Givenchy. Riccardo Tisci took the Internet by storm by announcing that 1200 tickets to the SS2016 presentation would be available to members of the public, a move designed to celebrate both the launch of a New York flagship store last week and the opening of a flagship in Milan which will coincide with the show on September 11th. Givenchy is one of the industry's longest-running fashion houses; founded in 1952 by Hubert de Givenchy, the house quickly gained a reputation for its elegant couture pieces and its sartorial links with icons such as Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn. The brand has come a long way, recruiting legendary designers such as Alexander McQueen and John Galliano along the road. Since his appointment in 2005, Tisci has nurtured a new, darker aesthetic and catapulted the brand to huge mainstream success. To celebrate his first decade at the house and his decision to make high-fashion more accessible, here are five of Givenchy's greatest collections.

Xiao Wen Ju wearing Givenchy Couture, A/W 2011


It was in late 1996, shortly after McQueen had found himself the recipient of international acclaim for his controversial Highland Rape, that the designer was announced as the new creative director of Givenchy. The press were shocked at the appointment of a relatively new and provocative London designer at a prestigious French couture house, but McQueen went on to work his magic on a larger scale than ever before. This, his second collection for the house (which can be seen in full here), was inspired by the fictional tale of a surgeon who decapitated women and animals to create hybrid creatures for his cabinet of curiosities. This tale was rendered reality in the form of an elaborate set, decorated with intricate gold cages filled with various birds - a constant source of inspiration for the designer. There were references to the East and eroticism in the form of kimono fabrics and references to the designer's own Scottish heritage in elaborate tartan gowns corseted tightly at the waist. 

Givenchy Couture A/W 1997 - ECLECT DISSECT

2) A/W 2013

The Rottweiler, Birds of Paradise, the Madonna -  over a few hugely successful seasons, Riccardo Tisci proved he knew his way around a signature print. None, however, sparked the mass hysteria that followed the A/W 2013 Bambi  print. Selfridges sold out its entire quota before it even became available in stores, several online retailers announced huge waiting list and the sweater even became a celebrity cult item worn by everybody from Carine Roitfeld to Kim Kardashian. The show was also exemplary of a juxtaposition between soft and light that was most evident in the styling. Heavy neoprene jumpers were belted at the waist and teamed with floor-length embellished sheer skirts, and the famous flame-print was also debuted at this show which also featured a trio of live performances from Antony Hegarty of Antony & the Johnsons. Darkly romantic rose prints adorned several looks whereas models walked the runway in cropped pink wigs styled into Renaissance curls and the cutesy Bambi print introduced a touch of whimsy to the designer's notoriously dark aesthetic. This was not only the season that Tisci did romance, it was also the season he established Givenchy as an international force to be reckoned with. 
Amanda Seyfried in the iconic Bambi print - Givenchy A/W 2013

3) A/W 1999

One of Alexander McQueen's last collections for Givenchy, this collection was heavily inspired by a sci-fi aesthetic. This collection spawned the famous LED bodysuits, all of which were perspex and moulded the the models' body like a high-tech exoskeleton. Underneath the perspex were complex patterns of LED wires designed to mimic a circuitboard - thus, McQueen once again pushed his models into a realm which was more than human. The women had bald heads and curved spines, and it was upon sending these models down the runway that the designer gave the now-iconic warning "Don't let them sweat in the suit. If they sweat in the suit, they get electrocuted." Brazilian bombshell Gisele Bundchen was just one of the famous faces skulking the futuristic runway, resulting in one of the most impressive shows in Givenchy's history.

Givenchy RTW A/W 1999

4) S/S 2012 COUTURE

In terms of the couture collection itself, the S/S 2012 showing wasn't radically different to any of its predecessors. Tisci showed a carefully-curated presentation featuring ten stunning dresses created in a primarily monochrome colour palette, all of which were dripping in diamonds and heavy, elaborate embellishment. However, the real star of the collection went on to become one of the year's most sought-after accessories, splashed across the cover of every major fashion magazine. The accessory in question was the embellished septum ring, a couture nod to street style shown in a variation of sizes. The biggest was a show-stopper, the facial equivalent of the door-knocker earring designed with two tiers and delicately finished with crystal crosses and small metal charms. Tisci called it his "very sparkle" collection and he was true to his word, exemplifying the couture attitude with his rules of excess. 

Tisci's couture septum jewellery
5) A/W 2011 MENSWEAR

The most interesting element of Tisci's reign at Givenchy is that gender appears to be no issue. He frequently sends women down his menswear runway in an attempt to blur the two and it is often his menswear collections that gain more critical acclaim and create more fans than his womenswear collections. The best example of this is the A/W 2011 menswear collection which spawned perhaps the most famous Givenchy piece of recent years, the Rottweiler sweatshirt. A cast of chiselled male models walked the runway in what would become a signature Givenchy look - tailored printed shorts teamed with a printed sweatshirt, knee-length high-tops and a printed varsity jacket. Supermodels such as Daphne Groeneveld and Joan Smalls also walked the runway in the menswear collection, again dressed head-to-toe in black. Chain-link neoprene, heavy fur coats and rottweiler silk scarves adorned with X-ray teeth completed the collection, an impressive amalgamation of high-end streetswear and cult prints that would go on to win Tisci a legion of celebrity fans such as Kanye West and A$AP Rocky and establish Tisci's reputation as one of the best-connected men in the fashion industry.

The iconic Rottweiler sweatshirt