The former Givenchy designer drops a new Nike collaboration today inspired by the court and a mythological Greek monster.
Over his twelve years at the helm of Givenchy, Riccardo Tisci established himself as the dark prince of fashion. His collections were severe and romantic, full of clothes that fused sharp tailoring and gothic flourishes with silhouettes from the street. And at the time, bringing together biblical references and the basketball court was more than a little revolutionary. The Italian-born designer’s greatest menswear hits for the French brand (see: Rottweiler tees and shark sweatshirts, Kanye West’s leather kilt, low-slung loose pants) cleared a path for how guys dress in 2017.
Tisci exited Givenchy back in February, and while he’s been enjoying some much-deserved downtime since then, he’s not totally out of the game. Today Tisci’s latest collection with Nike drops. And while the lineup was put into motion before he exited the storied French label, it still contains the first fresh Riccardo Tisci designs the world has seen in eight months—a lifetime in the fast-paced fashion world. “I wouldn’t say I’m nervous, but I think about how this is the first thing people are seeing in so long,” he says when we met at Nike’s 21 Mercer Street store in Manhattan.
Two thousand seventeen has also been a new beginning of sorts for Nike, which took over the design duties of every NBAteam uniform from Adidas. Fittingly, this new Nike x Riccardo Tisci collaboration is centered on the NBA, and sees a brand-new NBA-inspired Nike x RT logo. Specifically, Tisci created the collection around the idea of a fictional NBA team, which he named the “Victorious Minotaurs.” The capsule consists of off-court staples: a new take on the Air Force 1, a bomber jacket, a wool sweater, track pants, and even an oxford shirt, perhaps the most unexpected piece in the collection. “Nike never says no,” Tisci explains. “And they know when they work with me they’re not going to just get, like, sneakers with a little print. So I brought them the fabric, and they said they would find the factories, and that was really it.” That said, when it comes to more technical pieces like track pants, Tisci says, “I’ve learned more about technology from my collaborations with Nike than I have in 20 years of being a couturier.”
A basketball team called the Minotaurs might sound like something left on the Space Jamcutting-room floor, but it’s not so far-fetched. (Remember, there’s a real NBA team called the Pelicans.) In any case, minotaurs hold a special place in Tisci’s heart and have been a theme in his designs dating back to his Givenchy days. “It seems like every five years minotaurs come back into my mind,” he says. On what draws him to these mythological creatures, his answer is, well, kind of adorable. “I grew up with eight sisters, so I came up with an imaginary brother. I was obsessed with the idea of having a brother, and so I thought, ‘Well, what if my imaginary brother was a minotaur?’ ” he says, adding, “Minotaurs are also the strongest, and they are the heroes, which to me is like basketball players today, who are so passionate about their game.”
But despite their larger-than-life inspiration, these new Nike x RT pieces look more like what NBA players might wear in the tunnel or at a post-game press conference than their actual uniforms. (Expect to see that Givenchy-ish star, located under the Nike Swoosh on the Air Force 1s, on NBA players’ Instagram accounts in the coming weeks.) This is now Tisci’s second time re-designing the Air Force 1, which he calls his favorite sneakers of all time. In fact, in the past, Tisci has said that he only wears Nike Air Force 1s (“The white low-tops were my good-luck charm on show days,” he says), though in his time off he’s been able to pay more attention to new Nike releases. “I love the Virgil Nikes,” he says, referring to Off-White designer Virgil Abloh’s own collaboration with the Swoosh. “I have been wearing the Virgil Nike Vapormax sneakers all summer.”
Collaborating with a major sportswear label is one thing, but Tisci knows that the fashion world—the one with runways and couture dresses—is itching to know when he’ll return. Rumors have linked him to labels like Versace, and though he doesn’t say where he’ll be taking his talents, he does give a when. “Not for 2017, because I’m still a little on holiday, and being away allowed me to focus more of time on this Nike collaboration. But I’m sure in 2018. Talks are happening now, and I see clearly what I want to say yes to.” That’s right, folks. Next year Riccardo Tisci, the dark prince of fashion himself, will be back.
The Nike x RT “Victorious Minotaurs” collection is available today at NikeLab locations and nike.com on October 20.