The Givenchy Spring Summer 2016 show was art directed by Tisci’s close collaborator, Marina Abramović
Credit: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

It’s likely that, when reflecting on the defining characteristics of his incredible 12-year tenure at Givenchy, people will recall the connections that Riccardo Tisci made with others as readily as they will his breathtaking takes on haute couture and ready-to-wear.

Amongst his contemporaries, the well-connected designer was an early champion of diversity and often unconventional beauty, assembling what he called a ‘gang’ that included transgender model and muse Lea T, Naomi Campbell, Joan Smalls, as well as the musicians ANOHNI and Li Yuchun, amongst others. Tisci was also quick to align himself with celebrities of an ilk that many at the time wouldn’t dream of associating with, creating moments that would guarantee his place in the firmament of fashion and culture.

And while his high-profile collaborations – Nike, Beyoncé, Madonna, Kanye West and Jay Z – garnered the Italian designer a great deal of popular acclaim, his many endeavours into other, more quiet creative realms suggested Tisci was interested in much more than high wattage moments.

Below, revisit five of Riccardo Tisci’s most memorable artistic collaborations over the course of his time at Givenchy.

Marina Abramovic
On occasion of his tenth year at Givenchy in 2015, Tisci decamped to New York’s Pier 26 to present his women’s spring/summer 2016 collection on the anniversary of 9/11 in the shadow of the Freedom Tower.

Tisci’s black-and-white show was art directed by the controversial performance artist Marina Abramovic, who stationed silent performers throughout the show, which for the first time was also open to the public. Their austere performances and Tisci’s universally praised collection of couture-worthy looks proved to be a fitting tribute to the city and an industry that had so warmly embraced him over the course of the last decade.

Tisci and Abramobic’s relationship was also the focus of a great deal many more memorable moments during his time at Givenchy. The designer enlisted the artist to feature in his guest-edited ‘Religion’ edition of Visionaire in 2011, which featured a Pietà style image of Ambramovic and Tisci – the designer posing as if breastfeeding from the artist.

In a much more subdued image, Abramovic also starred in the brand’s Spring/Summer 2013 advertising campaign, shot by Tisci’s good friends, Mert & Marcus.

Performers overlook the runway at the Givenchy Spring Summer 2016 fashion show during New York Fashion Week on September 11, 2015
Credit: Catwalking/Getty Images

Kehinde Wiley
For An Economy of Grace, Kehinde Wiley’s first body of work dedicated to all female subjects, the artist asked Tisci to create custom-made couture gowns for each of his street cast models.

Posed in a manner that replicated the historical portraits of society women seen by the artist at the Louvre by artists like Jacques-Louis David, Thomas Gainsborough and John Singer Sargent, among others, the women ranged from Rikers Island prison guards to teen mothers. It was the artist’s intention to create “a rightful place for them within art history, which has to date been an almost exclusively white domain.”

A work from Kehinde Wiley’s An Economy of Grace, The Two Sisters, 2012, oil on linen, 96″ x 72″
Credit: Courtesy of the artist

Benjamin Shine
In 2013, Tisci created a line of sweatshirts with the British-born, Canberra-based artist Benjamin Shine, featuring the kind of Madonna-and-Child iconography informed by Tisci’s strict Catholic upbringing that the designer so heavily drew on for his collections – only this time rendered in the artist’s signature tulle formations.

The following year, Tisci created the first instalment of what would become an ongoing and extremely popular collaboration with Nike, drawing on another reliable component of his design oeuvre – think Fall 2013’s now iconic Bambi sweatshirts and the seasonal variations that have followed.

Shine’s collaboration with Tisci also paved the way for his incredible collaboration with John Galliano and Maison Margiela’s most recent Artisanal collection.

Credit: Courtesy of the artist/Givenchy

Paul Veroude
Rumours of Tisci’s departure from Givenchy have been percolating for years. It was at the time that he showed his Spring 2015 Menswear collection that they reached a fever pitch, the intimation being that he was Gucci-bound (Frida Giannini presented what would be her final menswear collection for Gucci the week prior).

It was in Paris that week, however, that Tisci would issue something of a statement to the contrary.

In a vast hanger, Tisci’s models circled a deconstructed Cessna that had been “exploded” by the Dutch artist Paul Veroude, whose work celebrates the power of machinery through the process of deconstruction. The almost anatomical, worshipful diagram was also something of a cipher for Tisci’s pious sartorial precision and devotion to his craft.

At the Spring 2015 Givenchy menswear show, Dutch sculptor Paul Veroude deconstructed a Cessna for an installation commissioned by the house
Credit: Michel Dufour/Wireimage

M/M Paris
A more surreptitious, though nonetheless significant, collaboration has been the one Tisci has enjoyed with M/M Paris, the creative consultancy helmed by Michael Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniak.

The acclaimed design duo designed all of Tisci’s show invitations for the house for the duration of his tenure at Givenchy and in 2013, in occasion of their 20th anniversary, Amzalag and Augustyniak released The Givenchy Files to celebrate their ongoing collaboration: a hardback, limited edition tome amassing their always memorable designs for the Parisian house.

“Celebration”: M/M Paris’s invitation for Riccardo Tisci’s 10th anniversary show, featuring a likeness of Tisci’s chief muse, Italian supermodel Mariacarla Boscono
Credit: M/M Paris/Instagram

Tile image: Catwalking/Getty Images
Cover image: Courtesy of Benjamin Shine/Givenchy