Talk Tuesday: Versace and Riccardo Tisci

Did I get to interview these designers, ohh wishful thinking on my part. It would of been a dream come through to sit in a room and just witness these two talented people communicate.  Donatella Versace with her heavy italian accent interviewing her fellow italian brethren Riccardo Tisci, the dark talent and the force behind the turn-around of french fashion house Givenchy.  The following is an excerpt from Interview magazine.

VERSACE: Just like music evokes emotion, so can garments.

TISCI: Absolutely. At times during fittings they make my heart beat like when you first meet the person you love.

VERSACE: Your last couture collection gave me a very strong emotion. It was very beautiful, modern, super cool, but also made in the way of a great couturier.

TISCI: When I started, everyone said couture was finished and I was so scared. Actually I was more terrorized than scared. I was arriving from a provincial area of Italy. They called me in to do Givenchy and I just thought, Wow. The first thing I did was sign my name. But I have to be sincere, I did that because my mom was leaving our family home and that thought really upset me. In a way, I didn’t even think . . . It could have been Givenchy, it could have been anywhere, but the fact of thinking of my mother in a home for the elderly . . . I don’t have anything against homes for the elderly, but my mom, after having nine children, after all the sacrifices, living in an apartment—it gave me anxiety. Being the only male in the family, I said, “No I can’t let this happen.” Therefore I signed, because I wanted to buy a house for my mom. I started at Givenchy and the whole fashion world was saying, “Couture is finished.” No, couture is not finished. Couture has changed—thank goodness.

VERSACE: I agree with you.

TISCI: My first stage was couture. Boom. Couture. It has changed because women have evolved. Back in the day there were princesses. Today, there are still princesses, but she no longer rides around with horses and a carriage. She parties, she goes on vacation, she goes on boats. She wants to be dynamic. I understood this and I kept going. We do prêt-à-porter, men’s, and couture. When you do all of that, you want to differentiate. It is also a matter of respect. In the end, all of these women sewing and embroidering the clothes, whom are almost all my mother’s age, they’re all 70 or 80 years old, have been here for a lifetime. They spend hours on it and come up with solutions. And because it’s on a catwalk, people see if for five seconds and don’t even see the technique, the drapery. So I followed the Versace maison in this—in what you did. I prepared a couture look book.

VERSACE: It’s better to make fewer pieces but make them marvelous, because now, one can finally see what we do up close. And your samurai piece [from the Spring 2011 couture collection] I found to be genius. Hard and soft are brought together without weighing down the piece. It’s magnificent.

TISCI: Let’s say that in couture, I really show my romantic side,  because in spite of the fact that everyone thinks I am very much a Rottweiler—that I am very dark and everything—I have a side that is very romantic that I show to very few people. I would only open up like this to you, Donatella. I usually don’t like to talk about myself like this. We have known each other for five or six years. I will always remember when I first met you. You were with Miuccia Prada at the dinner for Vogue Italia with Franca
[Sozzani], and we were on the stairs smoking a cigarette. You introduced yourself and I said to myself, “This woman is really ciao, is really ahead.” And from there our friendship was born.

VERSACE: I am really glad to see such a talented Italian designer in Paris, showing the entire fashion world . . . And it seems to me that your last show [men’s and women’s Fall/Winter 2011] resembled Gianni.

TISCI: You have not been the only one to tell me that. Several people have said that to me. Most little children’s obsessions are robots and Barbie dolls. My obsession as a kid was the Versace house. I used to save up my pocket money to buy Versus shirts. I was that obsessed! I still am today such a big fan. In fact, the only fashion show that I went to in my life was for Versace, when I went to the men’s show, and it gave me great pleasure that you invited me. If I am in fashion, it is really due to very few designers that I admire—not because I don’t like the rest, or that the rest are not beautiful, but because I am very selective. I adore Versace. I adore Helmut Lang, despite the fact that it’s over.

Givenchy Couture Spring 2011

VERSACE: You are already dressing celebrities. At the Oscars, I thought Cate Blanchett’s Givenchy dress was the most elegant.

TISCI: Thank you so much. I’ll tell you, when I arrived here at Givenchy, there was a lot of confusion. Before me, there had been some great geniuses—John Galliano and Alexander McQueen are great masters. They marked history. But when I came in after Julien Macdonald, it was also a bit of a mess, because not even I could understand what the true identity of Givenchy was. Everyone thinks that it’s only Audrey Hepburn, but there is a whole other world behind it. So in the end, I closed all the doors and didn’t let anyone in so I could find it for myself. I didn’t want to dress anyone in the beginning, no celebrities. Then, very slowly I started with one, two, like that. There are some celebrities whom we dress because they are part of the family. They are women I admire. I don’t care how famous she is, if she is at the movies or in a concert.

VERSACE: Now I must ask you, do you have new ideas for Givenchy, or something new for Riccardo Tisci? I think you know what I mean. [laughs]

TISCI: Yes, I know what you mean. You mean what happened at Dior. I don’t know what will happen. Sincerely, I feel sorry for John. But for this moment I am leaving aside all the gossip of “I am going here, I am going there,” because there is a lot of gossip circulating and there always will be. I will tell you, in this moment, I am very happy at Givenchy and it is a moment in which I am bringing the game to the next level. So I tell you, I feel at home. It’s as if it were my son. I don’t know how to explain it. It would be very difficult for me to leave.

VERSACE: It’s like your child, there.

TISCI: Absolutely. Because I arrived here, with a destroyed house, with nothing. I had to do everything very slowly. And with a little team and a great president, we achieved a lot. I am happy here. For now, it is still Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci, and I think that it will be for a long time, because it will be difficult to evict me from my house. I feel good here! [laughs]

VERSACE: We will see if this is the whole truth!

TISCI: No, I would really say that, at the moment, it really is the truth. My truth is this: That I don’t know what will happen tomorrow because you can never know.

To read the entire interview click HERE


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