The philosophy Vogue and the Met seem to be going with in setting the stage for the upcoming Punk: Chaos to Couture gala and exhibit is that punk is an attitude–one that Givenchy designer and perceived rebel Riccardo Tisci has been chosen to represent as a co-chair.
So, Style.com sat down with him for an interview to more or less assess how punk he really is, despite often being described as sweet and charming.
So, how punk is Riccardo Tisci, really? Let him count the ways:
He lived in England:
I got nearer punk when I was 17. I left Italy to go to England, which was very punk for me to do, coming from where I come from. I didn’t want to live under the situation in Italy at that moment, political and social. I wanted to express myself, and I went to England and made my life…. You could still feel the attitude of punk in England, you still feel it a lot today, and I think the English, they’re very punk in their DNA.
The police came to his first two shows:
Not aesthetically [but] my own way to be punk, yes…. I didn’t know why I was there. I didn’t know why people chose me, because I had been doing [my own collections] in Milan in the punk way—I had been doing shows in a garage, talking about a vision of sexuality, being criticized, being stopped by the Italian government. The police came during my first two shows. All that because I was doing it off calendar, because I was doing it in an illegal place.
His rebellious approach at Givenchy:
I remember my first year at Givenchy some people wrote in a review that I was Antichrist, and I’m the most Catholic person in the world…. But what I did at the beginning, it was very punk because I didn’t really respect very much the DNA.
I got criticized a lot at the beginning, and it didn’t scare me, because I would really believe that I was there for a reason.
He’s defensive of Hedi Slimane:
The aesthetic that he does really belongs to him…. For sure, it is something that doesn’t look like anybody else, and that’s what I like…. Sometimes people say, “Oh, this person is a genius,” and you just see that what that person’s doing is something that’s been done two years before by somebody else. That, for me, is what I’m really against in fashion. And I think Hedi’s doing a great job. I like his aesthetic anyway.
He supports people who “don’t give a fuck”:
I support a lot of artists that are not scared to show emotion, like Marina Abramovic, Rihanna, or Carine Roitfeld. People that don’t—not in a bad way—but they don’t give a shit. They don’t give a fuck.
He puts unconventional models in his campaigns because the lack of punk culture today means that different types of people are more alone:
Today it seems like everybody is on their own…It probably sounds pretentious now I’m telling you, but when I used a transsexual for a campaign [the model Lea T], when I did other things, like using an albino for a campaign, I give a little. In my own way, I’m a person who can be followed by the young generation, or even more mature people. A designer does have this power, and I want to use the power not only to sell clothes and bags. I want to use my little power—or big, whatever people think it is—to give a message as well.
Punk and couture are the same:
You’re doing it with a lot of craftsmanship… And punk is the same. It’s about craftsmanship. Each person would make his own look. They made it on their body, they fitted it on their own body, and it’s basically the same way you do couture.
He’s basically creating an entire couture collection for his Met Gala guests:
Actually, it’s a little bit bigger than [a] couture [show] because it’s going to be a little bit more than ten looks…and it’s going to be very interesting because people are going to understand how these people are punk for me.