Givenchy Bids Goodbye to Couture Runway

Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci to show high fashion collection by appointment to ramp up exclusive cachet.

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PARIS — Dialing up the exclusive cachet of its high fashions, Givenchy is bidding adieu to the runway for couture and instead will invite clients and editors to individual appointments starting July 6.

This story first appeared in the June 21, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

What’s more, Riccardo Tisci, Givenchy’s couturier since 2005, plans to distill his fashion vision into only 10 looks, installing them in an opulent 18th-century town house on the Place Vendôme.

“I want to make couture even more special than it is, and not just another catwalk show,” Tisci told WWD in an exclusive interview alongside Pierre-Yves Roussel, chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s fashion division, which also spans fashion houses such as Celine, Loewe and Pucci. “People can really experience the couture moment: See it, touch it.”

Roussel and Tisci stressed that the format change is no cost-saving measure. In fact, Tisci said his presentation — with some dresses on mannequins, others on live models, plus an artistic look book with photographer Willy Vanderperre and a host of top models including Lara Stone and Mariacarla Boscono — would likely cost some 35 percent more than a runway show.

The designer noted Givenchy’s most devoted couture clients, including assorted royals, do not attend the shows for reasons of privacy and security. And roughly 70 percent alter designs in some way, meaning that a smaller collection and scaled-back theatrics pose no obstacles to a strong season. Couture represents a “special, high-level service,” which the new format reflects, he said.

Tisci said he would concentrate on exceptional eveningwear this season, noting that every look boasts embroideries and that “it’s the first time I’m not doing any black. It’s a challenge for me to do no black, and I like a challenge.”

He described the clothes as “languid and sensual,” but with masculine elements, each look fully accessorized.

“My client? She’s a very chic woman, confident in herself and adventurous,” Tisci said.

As part of Givenchy’s new up-close-and-personal approach to couture, Tisci and Roussel also revealed plans to mount high-level collaborations, starting with high jewelry next season. The men declined to name their eventual partner, but characterized the strategy as in line with couture week’s evolution.

Faced with a dwindling number of couture practitioners, the Chambre Syndicale has added a day to the calendar dedicated to high jewelry. Chanel Joaillerie, Boucheron, Chaumet and Van Cleef & Arpels are among brands unveiling new collections July 8.

Tisci said future couture collections would be unveiled at the company’s couture salons on Avenue George V, which are to undergo renovations, returning the house to its roots in the Fifties, when mini shows for clients would be held.

Roussel said the 2009 downturn compelled all fashion players to reevaluate their strategies and to return to “what’s essential.” With Tisci, Givenchy was able to add strong creativity to its atelier’s savoir faire, he said.

“After a crisis, a new era always starts,” the designer added. “It’s going to be a very good moment for creativity. For couture, it’s going to go back to being very exclusive.”

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