ARTICLE RICCARDO TISCI AND B. AKERLUND
WHAT DO YOU WEAR TO PLAY THE BIGGEST SHOW ON EARTH? MADONNA TURNED TO RICCARDO TISCI AND STYLIST B. AKERLUND TO GILD HER IN GIVENCHY HAUTE COUTURE FOR THE 2012 SUPERBOWL. HERE, THEY EACH DISCUSS WORKING WITH THE QUEEN OF POP
For me, Madonna has always been one of the great icons of the world. We first worked together on her Sticky & Sweet tour in 2008. Then, I designed new outfits for the second part of her tour the year after. Since then, we have stayed in personal contact over the years—at Christmas, going out for dinner in New York—so for me, working with her on the Super Bowl was about a personal relationship, not just about fashion and music. It was about sharing ideas and emotions. We began the design process by looking through the archives of two of my Givenchy collections: the Punk/Marine one (women’s) and the Moroccan/Gladiator one (men’s). We worked from there to build something new and modern that felt right for Madonna. Fitting her is always interesting, because she knows her body so well. She really knows exactly what she is talking about in a fitting. She is extremely precise. We are both Leo, so I have respect for this strength and precision! For the Super Bowl, the clothes needed to be seen from far away, Madonna had to feel at ease dancing and performing in them (like an athlete), and they had to also catch light. Watching the performance made me very proud. I had goose bumps, and I don’t get goose bumps very easily! What was interesting and wonderful about this moment was that you could feel the anticipation building. You could feel the love and respect for her. You could feel that people wanted Madonna back.
With Madonna, we usually base everything on a character and it spirals from there. The inspiration for this performance came from the Roman empire and channeling a modern-day Cleopatra. The initial concept came from Madonna, and we worked together on all the designs for each character. It was a very collaborative process. “Vogue” was the biggest challenge, because we had to create dancers to look like Roman statues. The Super Bowl halftime show is one of the most anticipated performances in the world due to the amount of people watching. I have been told there are over one billion viewers. We were extremely careful to keep things secret—the anticipation of what Madonna’s costume would be was so high. I was even told that there were bets placed in Las Vegas on whether or not she would wear fishnets! We had strict orders that we could not show any nipples whatsoever, so even the gladiator costumes were designed to cover them up. We did tons of rehearsal to prevent anything from going wrong. We knew it was important to do something Madonna had never done before. To see it all come to life was amazing and sad at the same time. I felt a bit of a loss when it was over, like the world went back to neutral.
PHOTOGRAPHY B. AKERLUND