The designer – who is widely tipped to take over from shamed designer John Galliano at French fashion house Christian Dior – explained while he was first chosen to replace Julien Macdonald at Givenchy in February 2005, he was reluctant to give up running his own line.
However, when his mother told him she had to sell her home after falling on hard times, he quickly changed his mind.
Riccardo explained: “I wasn’t interested. Not at all. I was going to say no. But the week before, my mother called me and said to me, ‘I am going to tell you something I haven’t even told your sisters: I think I am going to sell our house because your sisters are struggling, they’re having children, they need the money. I will go to a retirement home.’
“When I heard that it was like a knife in my heart. I felt like such a failure, that my mother had to sell the house of my father whom I don’t remember.
“And then I went to Paris, and they showed me a contract with all these zeros on it, and it was like help from God. I thought ‘If I sign this, my mother will never have to worry again.’ So I signed it.”
The Italian designer credits his mother with giving him the “confidence” he needed to believe in his skills in the fashion world.
He added to the Financial Times newspaper: “My mother, she gave me everything. She gave me the confidence to believe in myself. It’s a strange time in fashion – everything has got so big.
“We can get very insular, the fashion tribe – we think we’re a lot of people but actually we’re very small – but my mother, my sisters don’t understand fashion now, which is how I know what the final consumer feels. They don’t want to buy image, they want to buy substance.”