In recent years, science has revealed that plants are more conscious than we ever knew them to be. They have advanced signaling systems and even memories. Mostly, their memories are of times they experienced drought, flood, excess heat, and other environmental factors. But what if they could remember us? What if a garden could remember the lovers who walked through its verdant space, the conversations they had, the moments they shared?
In Givenchy’s Spring 2020 Couture show, the English garden is imagined as a metaphor for the memory of lives lived. This nostalgic evocation came from Clare Waight Keller’s research into the house archives and her past visits to the UK’s crown jewel: the gardens at Sissinghurst House. The designer described the collection as her love letter to Hubert de Givenchy and, as beautiful as that sounds, it was even more exquisite in person.
Flowers are the centerpiece of the collection, with models transformed into walking blossoms cocooned in capes and shrouded in orb-like hats that resembled enormous petals. Undulating ruffles recalled the velvet layers of the pansy, while the iris was printed directly onto gowns. Gypsophila sprouted from the shoulders of a suit, while other looks possessed bulbous silhouettes that evoked the form many garden seeds take before they push through the earth. Even the names of the colors in the collection recalled the flower – violet, periwinkle, and dragée pinks were all vibrantly on display.
Those cocooning volumes, lavish fabrications, and bold hues mixed with sublime suiting are what we’ve come to expect, but this couture collection felt special.
A garden is a very different place during the day than it is at night, and the collection reflects this idea accordingly. Daytime hues are vivid, but at night, there are prismatic shards of silver reflecting from embellished surfaces, inky black gowns covered in netting that remind us of dew clinging to spiderwebs, and touches of ivory lace dresses that capture the idea of moonlight – a motif that harkens back to the very first couture collection that Waight Keller designed for Givenchy.
A couture collection offers a chance for a house to really flex its creative muscle, and she has been steadily developing a lexicon of details that are now recognizably hers. Those cocooning volumes, lavish fabrications, and bold hues mixed with sublime suiting are what we’ve come to expect, but this couture collection felt special. She called it a love letter, we felt the love.