While a lot of hand-wringing has gone into recent designer appointments – Riccardo Tisci at Burberry and Hedi Slimane at Céline come to mind instantly – there is one new hire that we need not fret about. Clare Waight Keller, who left Chloé after six years, is at Givenchy now and, while she certainly operated within a narrow aesthetic at her previous job, she has taken to her new role as if she’s been there all along.
Our assurance in her ability to pivot started with her amazing first collection for Givenchy Couture, which spilled over with crisp, longline coats and jackets worn over gorgeous sequined frocks and ombré feathered trim. Where her work at Chloé focused on youthful bohemian flou, her work at Givenchy is sophisticated, smart, and exactly the kind of thing modern women want to wear. She has proven to be versatile, and it’s a boon for the brand.
Her work at Givenchy is sophisticated, smart, and exactly the kind of thing modern women want to wear.
For Fall/Winter 2018, Waight Keller’s influence was Berlin, and the magical and menacing duality of the city after dark. It kicked off with a line-up of the most desirable fur coats we’ve ever laid eyes on – and they were all faux! Smartly tailored checkered suits also ranged throughout the collection, some topped with those magnificent faux-fur chubs, while others were complemented by boxy leather button-ups.
Waight Keller’s predecessor, Riccardo Tisci, changed Givenchy’s codes with dark tones, dense beading, sculptural accents, and strategic conceal-reveal panels of sheer and gothic lace. She kept a lot of those elements alive, especially when it came to her seductive eveningwear offering, but she also injected the collection with a surprising amount of leatherwork. There were glossy leather trousers, embossed leather trenches, and an enviable array of fold-over leather booties.
Eveningwear looks were also a surprise because of their wearability. Dresses and separates were decorated with fringe, oversized bows, and massive sculptural ruffles, yet, at their foundation, they were easy to slip on – you could even forego Spanx for the night. With the dark, brooding glamor of Givenchy fully intact and with sublimely cut clothes that women actually want to wear, Waight Keller demonstrated that high fashion can be democratic and still feel exclusive.