The business of fashion: The brains behind a multi-billion dollar empire

Updated 22nd September 2015
The business of fashion: The brains behind a multi-billion dollar empire
Written by Lianne Turner, CNNFiona Sinclair Scott, CNNNew York
The is the second episode in a 5-part exclusive documentary series with Riccardo Tisci. The first episode saw Riccardo in search of inspiration on the streets of Harlem in New York.
When Riccardo Tisci was asked in 2005 to join fashion house Givenchy as the new creative director, he didn't understand why the brand - known for Audrey Hepburn's little black dress and bourgeois French style - wanted him.
Young, provocative, toying with religion, sex and gothic references, he wasn't an obvious choice.
Givenchy isn't the only heritage house to recruit a young creative lead. Olivier Rousteing, 29, was made creative director of Balmain in 2011, Emilio Pucci welcomed Massimo Giorgetti into their established Italian business earlier this year; Alexander Wang, who has since left, spent a short while at Balenciaga and Jonathan Andersen at age 30 joined luxury label Loewe for a revamp.
Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH, the umbrella business that owns Givenchy, admitted that there's always an element of risk.
"It's not enough [to have a designer with talent]. You have examples in the fashion world of very talented designers with very good brands and sometimes it does not work."
Not the case for this collaboration. Ten years on, Riccardi Tisci is the brand and the brand has evolved.
According to Tisci, before he joined the business Givenchy was missing sensuality and youth, and as a young designer he brought these two elements to the brand.
Today Givenchy is relevant and innovative -- celebrity fans include Kanye West and Rihanna -- but the brand is still firmly propped up by the success and longevity of its history.
This season, Givenchy and Tisci celebrated their tenth anniversary together with another bold move. The 63-year-old brand relocated its SS16 ready-to-wear show from its usual Parisian home to the streets of New York.
What's more, in the days leading up to the event the house announced that it would be offering hundred of members of the public tickets to the show -- challenging the concept of exclusivity and high fashion. With the rise of social media, the doors are ajar, why not fling them open?
Tisci, a lover of Americana since childhood, knew that if he was going to come to New York once, he wanted to make a statement, he wanted to, in his words, "celebrate it properly."
The result; a spine-tingling presentation against the backdrop of Manhattan at dusk on September 11 co-directed by the artist, and Tisci's friend, Marina Abramovic.
More than 80 models walked the runway in a mixture of ready-to-wear and couture looks, live performances were heard and six tracks — spanning genres and cultures from around the world — drifted across pier 26 on the Hudson River as the brand made it's announcement: We're relevant, we're bold and — perhaps most significantly when the luxury sector has recently been courting China — we are committed to the US market.
Watch the first episode of the series here.