- Danielle Wightman-Stone |
British fashion designer Clare Waight Keller has called her tenure at Givenchy as artistic director as “three truly wonderful years” in a statement on her personal Instagram page.
The news of her departure came as a shock to many, especially as in such a short period, the British designer had elevated the fashion houses’ couture collections as well as give the luxury label international recognition by designing The Duchess of Sussex’s bridal gown for her wedding to Prince Harry in 2018.
On Instagram, Waight Keller, said: “From the heart. After three truly wonderful years, the time has come to close my chapter at Givenchy. As the first woman to be the Artistic Director of this legendary Maison, I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to cherish its legacy and bring it new life.
“Focusing on a world based on Haute Couture has been one of the highlights of my professional journey. I have shared so many incredible moments with the brilliant Givenchy ateliers and design teams: your exceptional talent and dedication will forever remain in my memories.”
Waight Keller, who joined Givenchy in 2017 from Chloé, oversaw the fashion house women's and men's ready-to-wear collection, accessories as well as haute couture, replacing former creative director Riccardo Tisco, who had been with Givenchy for 12 years. Her last collection for the house was the autumn/winter 2020 collection, which showcased during Paris Fashion Week in March.
On her departure, Waight Keller, added: “My heartfelt thanks go out to each of the unsung heroes and heroines behind the scenes, for their contribution from product to communications and retail, and every global team member, partner and supplier in between.
“Without all of you, I could not have brought my vision for Givenchy to life in such a beautiful way.
“I am now looking forward to embarking on the next episode. Love and creativity remain central to what I do, and who I am, as does a heartfelt belief in kindness, and the courage to be true to your art.”
Commenting on the end of the “collaboration” between the House of Givenchy and Waight Keller, the French luxury label said on its social media that they wanted to “warmly thank Clare Waight Keller for her creative leadership, in contribution to our latest chapter”.
Sidney Toledano, chairman and chief executive of LVMH Fashion Group, added: “Under her creative leadership, and in great collaboration with its ateliers and teams, the Maison reconnected with the founding values of Hubert de Givenchy and his innate sense of elegance. I wish Clare all the best in her future endeavours.”
Clare Waight Keller shares memories of her tenure at Givenchy
Following her departure from the French fashion house, Waight Keller has been sharing on her social media what she calls moments she will “never forget” while working at Givenchy, ranging from working with feathers, rainbow and blue, dressing celebrities including Cate Blanchett for the red carpet, creating stage looks for Beyoncé and JayZ, designing menswear, jewellery and couture pieces.
On menswear, the designer, who staged her first standalone men’s catwalk show during Pitti Uomo in 2019, explained that designing for men has been part of her “vocabulary since the beginning when I first started working in fashion”.
Waight Keller, said: “In the 90s I learnt the craft at Ralph Lauren a brand that embraces the traditional values and discipline of menswear. I deconstructed Saville Row jackets, Windsor collar shirts and the ultimate authentic workwear jeans from all eras. But menswear has always been something that enormously infused my womenswear. I am always borrowing from the boys.
“I spent most of my late teens looking like a boy, super cropped hair, DM lace ups and men’s pants always. So at Givenchy this found it’s way through all my collections. But more than that menswear is a really serene process, it’s about fine tuning, achieving the signature fit and cut, nuances of detail and acres of fabric development.
“The difference for me at Givenchy was the ability to launch the first ever men’s Couture, to indulge the extraordinary embroidery techniques with the rigours of tailoring brought a new exuberance to the silhouette and a whole new client to the house and the red carpet.”
Reminiscing on her first couture show for Givenchy, Waight Keller, said: “I was looking for a technique that was all about colour. I had built the collection around the colours of a night garden from sunset to sunrise. One of the specialist ateliers in Paris I work with hand paints fabric with extraordinary skill.
“From the first fabric trials I received, I fell in love with the depth of beauty and intensity they created in interpreting the idea of the evening sky. And so became a partnership over a series of my collections working on the dégradé pallette of exquisite rainbow hues.”
As well as couture and ready-to-wear, “dream jewels” also played a huge part of her creativity, with the British designing explaining: “I have always loved jewellery as a way to personalise and complete a look. I wear a lot of eclectic and symbolic jewellery that I have collected over the years. It was something I started at Chloe and became a signature part of my story.
“At Givenchy with access to some of the most extraordinary Parisian jewellery workshops the dream of Haute Couture jewels came to life. Each of these pieces has been entirely crafted by hand and only one ever exists. The incredible ateliers that have made these beauties for years for the couture houses show their love and passion in their unique skill creating these gorgeous pieces. There wasn’t ever a moment when we didn’t say wow when they arrived in the studio.”
Givenchy’s parent company LVMH has said it will announce a new “creative organisation” at a later date, with most expecting once the coronavirus crisis is over, as the luxury label has already cancelled its women's pre-spring collection and it will not make an autumn/winter 2020 couture collection due to the pandemic.
With regards to Waight Keller’s next move, the British designer has yet to confirm, just that she is “looking forward to embarking on the next episode”.
Main Image: courtesy of Givenchy by Steven Meisel
Other images: courtesy of Givenchy - Autumn/Winter 2020 Collection