House of Givenchy Makes Huge Mistake – Passing on Virgil Abloh
Givenchy, as most know it now, is not the same brand it was 12 years ago. Young Italian designer Riccardo Tisci joined the House of Givenchy as artistic director and designer at a time when the brand was declining. Tisci redefined the brand by infusing his edgy design aesthetic into the garments and increasing the brand’s online presence exponentially. He has dressed musical artist from Rihanna to Madonna and Pusha T, actors from Robert Downey Jr. to Christina Ricci and notably, social media mogul Kim Kardashian West. This approach helped to skyrocket the label’s sales revenue up to $539 million. However, after 12 years at the label, Riccardo Tisci is setting his sites beyond the House of Givenchy. Tisci was quoted saying, “I have very special affection for the House of Givenchy… I now want to focus on my personal interests and passions. Although Tisci claims he wants to spend his time on personal endeavors, he is rumored to be moving his talents to Versace. His Fall/Winter 2017 menswear collection and Spring couture collection will be his last. This is definitely the end of an era and the start to, well, something new.
But, onto the most interesting decision that executives at Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey Group (LVMH – the conglomerate that owns Givenchy) have had to make in over a decade…who will replace Tisci? Over the past week, several names have been mentioned as possibilities. One of the designers rumored to be considered by executives is Virgil Abloh. Two days ago Givenchy clarified the rumor saying, “Mr. Abloh was not approached by the house and is not to join the organization.” Abloh is an American creative designer, from Chicago, Illinois and founder of Milan-based fashion label Off-White originally Pyrex Vision. He has also worked as Kanye West’s creative director for the past decade. But not before studying engineering and completing a Master’s in architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology. As if he isn’t already versatile enough Abloh is also a skateboarding, art gallery owning, DJ.
The most appealing thing about Abloh is that he is an outsider, unlike Tisci who began attending art school at age 11, at institutions like Design Istituto d’Arte Applicata in Cantu and London's, Central Saint Martins School of Art. Abloh’s Ghanaian and American heritage coupled with his architecture and engineering background make him unique in the fashion industry. However, American creative directors are rarely found in European fashion houses. There have only been a few over the past 60 years. Outside of this Abloh has a uniquely close relationship with the streetwear demographic both in America and abroad. Abloh has opened Off White stores in Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing, London, Shanghai, and Seoul which each have their own distinct street style. He has a global cult-like following of youth who value individuality and freedom. This demographic rejects the traditional rules of fashion, Abloh calls it “post-Tumblr, post-street style.” Abloh takes a cue from his boss Kanye West and possesses his outspoken nature but in a more understated way. He is not afraid to say that his label Off-White is just a resume, a place to experiment, and a launching pad to his ultimate desire, becoming a creative director at a major fashion house.
After Givenchy’s struggles a little over a decade ago they made an exceptional choice by hiring the young Riccardo Tisci. Tisci brought in his high-fashion-streetwear and provocative style to the brand which built huge momentum. Now, I fear that the brand could lose this momentum by not betting on Abloh, someone who has a true ear to the streets and an aesthetic that could bring the brand, even more, revenue and change the fashion industry forever. A replacement is to be announced soon. One can only hope the House of Givenchy will make the right choice and continue with its success.
By: Sasha Poché