In September 2004, Riccardo Tisci presented a show unconventional for high-gloss Milan Fashion Week: supermodels wearing intricately ruched and tiered black gowns moving around a smoky, atmospheric set littered with disused car parts and large black balls. Born in Italy in 1975, Riccard moved to London at the age of 18 and graduated from Central Saint Martins in 1999. The following year, he moved back to Italy where he developed a small collection of dresses and T-shirts for the London boutique Kokon To Zai. British Vogue photographed them and Björk bought some, but production was a low-key affair with everything handmade by the designer’s mother and eight sisters. In 2002 Riccardo was appointed creative director of the Italian fashion house Coccapani, where he designed four well-received collections. During the same period, he designed the first Puma Rudolf Dassler Schuhfabrik collection, injecting his sense of playful volume into women’s sports pieces. 2004 was set to be his big breakthrough year – the designer won a contract with Ruffo Research, but after a few months the company behind the brand put the project on hold, forcing Riccardi to reconsider his plans. It was then that he launched his own label. The 12 outfits presented in September 2004 and modelled by the likes of Karen Elson and Mariacarla Boscono – the latter, his muse and best friend – were just a taste of things to come. In March 2005, Riccardo was presented with his greatest challenge to date when he was named the new chief designer of womenswear at Givenchy. The Italian has since shelved his eponymous line in favour of concentrating all his energy on the grand Parisian couture house. Riccardo is the fourth designer to head up the LVMH-owned brand since founder Hubert de Givenchy retired from fashion in 1995, and is the only young-generation couturier working in an establishment Parisian house today. Not that age has ever disadvantaged the Italian as he continues to work with sharp tailoring and gothic romanticism to take the esteemed label from strength to strength, presenting his first Haute Couture Collection for Givenchy on 7 July 2005.