THE TWO FACES OF GIVENCHY

As one of the most innovative houses in luxury, Riccardo Tisci has reshaped Givenchy for the 21st century.

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For near a decade, the male modeling industry – particularly for runway shows –has been dominated a particular type of guy: tall, super-slim, and somewhat androgynous. They’re characteristics popularised by Hedi Slimane at Dior Homme, and continued under his artistic leadership at Saint Laurent, and it’s come to define the shows of every major, and subsequently minor, show on the seasonal schedule. But at Givenchy, Riccardo Tisci has been known to cast a “bigger, healthier, sportier” guy, as he describes it, which perhaps goes some way in explaining why the French house’s wares seem to race off the shop floor: they seem accessible to the everyday customer because of the way in which they’re portrayed.

“When I started to do casting one year before my first show, agencies were full of skinny boys… beautiful, but it was not my type,” explains Mr Tisci. “I wanted to make a real casting. I don’t like to exclude people.” As such, he began street casting in the United States and, when on vacation in Brazil, Morocco, Puerto Rico, he “found very strong boys with very strong personalities. With street casting you fall in love with a personality, a character. I like people having [that].” Of course, there are regular models – those that make it their day job – in his shows, but as he explains, “I never ask for the books of the models. I don’t need to know what a person does in life. I prefer to talk to people and understand their character.”

For the house’s spring 2015 collection, Mr Tisci presented a significantly diverse cast of models, including African American, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, British, American and Australian – Joel Meacock and Nathaniel Visser included – boys in the show. And like their contrasting looks, the collection was one of binaries: flowers (“I wanted this collection to be romantic and very chic, because Givenchy is first a couture house and I don’t want to forget that,” says Mr Tisci) and military references. “If you look at each boy, they are very strong but also very sweet at the same time. Very romantic. When somebody is very confident with his sexuality, he can play with lace, pearls and with femininity. This is my luck at Givenchy: I can do couture and I can do streetwear.”

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Photography Ana & Danko Steiner