On the heels of its Spring/Summer 2017 menswear collection last month, Givenchy has released a lookbook of its Autumn/Winter 2016 couture collection. The recent couture showings come after the Paris-based design house announced in 2012 that it would be taking a “hiatus” from showing a formal couture collection, a move that was “somewhat unexpected,” per British Vogue, considering Tisci’s fervent interest in the couture arm of the business. At the time of the announcement, Style.com said it was likely because “the brand’s plate is presumably full this year, with Riccardo Tisci co-hosting the Met Gala in May.”
Since then, the house has returned to showing couture, but in lieu of couture-specific shows (as the brand used to do), Tisci has opted to integrate the custom pieces into the corresponding men’s runway shows. In attendance at the Versace couture show in January 2015, Riccardo Tisci revealed that he would be designing couture for the Paris-based design house again after a several-year hiatus. That reintroduction to couture took place during the brand's S/S 2016 menswear show.
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While Autumn/Winter 2016 marks the first time since Autumn/Winter 2012 that Givenchy has released a couture-specific lookbook and S/S 2016, the first time that it has shown couture on the runway, Tisci has continued to produce one-off couture dresses for clients, “special projects” and high-profile red carpet events, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Ball, while continuing to concentrate on its ready-to-wear line.
So, what has Tisci’s “one-off couture dresses for clients and ‘special projects’” come to look like? Well, he has created looks for each Met Gala since he co-chaired in 2013, for the Oscars, and other red carpet events, as promised. The gowns for clients include a gown for stylist/consultant Vanessa Traina Snow’s 2012 wedding and a gown for reality star Kim Kardashian’s wedding, as well as a dress for her daughter and Kanye West’s tuxedo. Most interestingly, maybe, are the creations for "special events.” In this category certainly falls the costumes Tisci created for the Paris Palais Garnier de l’Opéra National’s production of Maurice Ravel’s Le Boléro ballet in 2013. There have also been tour costumes for Rihanna, Beyonce, and Chinese mega-star Li Yuchun; you may also recall that Tisci designed the costumes for Jay Z and Kanye West’s 2011-2012 Watch The Throne Tour and for Madonna’s 2012 Super Bowl performance costumes.
The movement away from couture is not terribly surprising, given the change in direction a Givenchy over the past several years. We have seen the house up its revenues thanks, in part, to the proliferation of more accessible wares (from Tisci's first "it" bag, the Nightingale to the rapper-friendly t-shirts) that has facilitated a more mainstream awareness of the Paris-based design house. Analysis predicted that Givenchy's revenues are set to reach half a billion within the next few years, certainly an ode to Tisci’s introduction of more wearable, accessible pieces, such as luxury t-shirts and sweatshirts with graphics that ranged from Rottweilers and Bambi to religious iconography and floral designs, and “it” bags – things that did not really exist, certainly not in the case of the former, prior to his ongoing tenure.
Moreover, the house welcomed Sebastian Suhl, who joined Givenchy in 2012 from Prada (and has subsequently left for fellow LVMH-owned brand, Marc Jacobs), as CEO. Under Suhl's direction, the house's retail structure has been transformed by way of an array of new boutiques. The brand opened a 4,000 square foot flagship on Avenue Montaigne in Paris, and has additional stores slated to open in New York, London, Rome, Milan and Tokyo, and opened its first U.S. store in Las Vegas. In addition to expanding its retail presence in the U.S., Givenchy appointed Devon Pike as the brand’s first U.S. president in January 2014.
With the recent couture offerings in mind, it does appear that Givenchy is in the process of reclaiming its position as a true couture house, albeit slowly.
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