'Dark' and 'sensuous' are two rent-a-box adjectives that spring to choice when describing the work of Riccardo Tisci. But there's another theme, recognised or not, masquerading beside those crucifixes and piled-to-the-hilt gold talismans. It's gender, skin and bones.
Think of the way Tisci, along with Givenchy stylist Panos Yiapanis, has swung the pendulum towards the man in fashion from the boy. Built of solid muscle, he is removed from the slim handwriting of Hedi Slimane and Raf Simons but free to play with sensitivity of lace, leggings, skorts and whatever else. Taking clichés and punching them into another ball park, the result is entirely masculine and commercially successful, coveted and worn by a broad cross-section of XY-ers.
Leopard - used since graduation and at A/W 2007's haute couture - becomes the backbone of men's S/S 11. But things can move the other way too, from male to female. Tisci’s Veneration of the Crown of Thorns premiered at A/W 10 menswear and is offered to buy as part of S/S 11's jewellery for women. That the designer is honest about the fact there are male and female qualities in everything (and everyone) is an intelligent, progressive statement without camp frippery or detachment from reality. He is the first designer to work on such an integrated/ideas-led basis across genders since Helmut Lang.
His relentless championing of transgender friend and muse Lea T in campaigns and on the catwalk - a bold move for such an established house - has since created the newest fashion body of all.
Tisci's skill is in his ability to work in an interzone of spirit. He creates a language that, above all, addresses a certain character. Given the commercial success of Givenchy since his 2005 appointment, it's fair to say he's tapped into the zeitgeist, whilst pushing forward to steer the direction of the future.
After fashion's desire to split men and women apart more than ever - different fashion weeks, different shows, different designers at the homme and femme divisions - Tisci's steadfast, instinctive nature is by consequence one of our most modern.
Even so, we shouldn't think about it too much. This one's from the heart...