Star designer Riccardo Tisci leaves Givenchy in fashion world's latest shuffle

NEW YORK (NYTimes) - Yet another seismic shift is taking place in French fashion. Riccardo Tisci, creative director of Givenchy who was responsible for redefining the brand Audrey Hepburn built for the Kardashian era, said on Thursday that he was leaving the brand after 12 years.

A successor has not been announced. Givenchy, in a statement, said it was "a joint decision" to end the collaboration and that Tisci had officially left on Jan 31 "after a very successful twelve year partnership."

Designer moves have become so common of late that they are starting to seem more yawn-inducing than critical. (A brief list of departures, since 2015, include Raf Simons from Dior, Hedi Slimane from Saint Laurent, Alber Elbaz from Lanvin, Alexander Wang from Balenciaga, Consuelo Castiglioni from Marni and, as of last Monday, Clare Waight Keller from Chloe.)

But Tisci's amicable divorce from Givenchy, which is owned by French conglomerate LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, could have deeper repercussions.

Tisci had not only transformed Givenchy into one of LVMH's most successful brands, but was often held up as a model for the partnership between hot young designer and heritage house.

That he was willing to end what appeared to be a happy marriage suggests that the old days of designers staying in place for decades may be finally, officially, over.

Ms Linda Fargo, senior vice president for fashion and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman, said, "I guess destabilisation is the new normal." When Tisci joined Givenchy in 2005, the brand was floundering after being led by a quick series of creative directors, including John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Julien Macdonald. In an interview with The Financial Times in 2011, Mr Marco Gobbetti, the former chief executive of Givenchy, said the brand was "a mess, without an identity." Tisci was a 30-year-old upstart Italian with a gothic sensibility who had barely started his own line.

It seemed a surprising match, but he managed to combine his own harder-edged sensibility with a certain French classicism and a dose of emotion to give Givenchy a newfound relevance: He made crosses, skulls and the perfect white shirt make sense.

Tisci was also an early adopter of social media, cognisant of the power that those platforms and influencers would have on fashion. He has 1.8 million followers on Instagram, and many of his famous friends appear in his posts as often as they do in the front row of his shows.

LVMH, which also owns brands like Celine, does not break down the performance of individual maisons in its financial results.

But staff strength at Givenchy has more than tripled since Tisci joined and sales revenue is believed to have grown to around 500 million euros (S$760 million) annually.

There are now 72 free-standing stores worldwide, with a Rome flagship to open this year and plans for a London store are underway for next year. Last week, LVMH, posted record revenue and profits for 2016, beating expectations

"Riccardo has accomplished everything a designer can do for a brand, clocking a very respectable tenure and creating a fully realised language for them," Ms Fargo said.

So, why leave?

Tisci said he was leaving to "focus on my personal interests and passions."

But rumours have suggested he may be headed to Versace. It would mean going home to Italy, and to a brand whose unabashed Italian sex and power-woman aesthetic mirrors his own.

And Tisci is close to Donatella Versace. He shocked fashion in 2015 when he featured her, at least nominally a rival designer, in a Givenchy ad campaign.