Riccardo Tisci found church disturbing
Riccardo Tisci learnt to accept his differences by going to church dressed as a girl when he was a child.
The Givenchy designer comes from a large family and the Catholic Church was a vital part of his upbringing. He and his family would attend a service every Sunday, and even though they weren't dressed as glamorously as some others in attendance Riccardo's mother never allowed them to feel ashamed.
"You know, it was disturbing as a child to go to church. Can you imagine in Milano, a family of nine kids, poor? I was dressed like a girl, in the clothes of my sisters, walking because we didn't have a car. It was like a ritual," he told Harper's Bazaar magazine. "Every Sunday morning, we would wake up, have a shower, have breakfast and walk to the church together. And, of course, we all felt - my sisters and me - that we were the poor ones. But my mum, she was so proud. You could see that people were staring at us, and she'd say, 'Look straight! Look straight!' We were the poor ones, and she was not caring! Before everybody else, we had to be in the first row at church, and that, for me, is what made religion so impactful. It gave me the strength to believe, to understand that I'm different, but I've got something to say, so I shouldn't be ashamed to say it."
The designer's mother has played a huge part in his career. As a child he was allowed to play around with his clothing and was never ordered to wear certain items, which meant his creativity grew from a young age. Riccardo and his sisters were all encouraged to be accepting of others too, something which he has never forgotten.
"My mum, she never, ever told us how to dress," he explained. "I used to have long hair, piercings, make-up - she never told me not to look like that.
"My sisters had gay friends, black friends. If any of us would judge anybody for the colour of their skin, my mum would go nuts! This is why my sisters and me, we are all the same. We are very strange Italians.
"My mum, she doesn't know how to write and she's reading very slowly, she's learning with time. But she's so intelligent, so emancipated, so fragile, so incredible as a woman."