Those who doubted Clare Waight Keller’s ability to design menswear can now rest their case. The designer, who’s known for her romantic womenswear she created throughout her six-year stint at Chloé, has shown that she’s got what it takes to impress in her men’s and women’s collections for Givenchy at Paris Fashion Week.
“Fashion is a tool for self-metamorphosis,” she says. “It can transform the spirit through a new attitude for new beginnings.”
The show certainly marks this new chapter. For starters, it showed yesterday at Palais de Justice on Île de la Cité – a venue that’s never been used for a fashion show before. It’s also the first time Givenchy showed its men’s and women’s collections together at Paris Fashion Week.
Celebrities, such as Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Julianne Moore, Fan Bingbing and Lee Dongwook, turned out to witness Waight Keller’s first outing as creative director.
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Ricardo Tisci, who left Givenchy after 12 years, left big shoes to fill, and Waight Keller stepped up to the challenge with a collection that departs from Tisci’s punk-infusion and gravitates towards lightness and femininity.
Unlike Tisci’s approach, Waight Keller turned to the house’s archive for inspiration. The entrance to the show venue, for example, was inspired by the historic facade of the Givenchy headquarters.
The show was filled with “little black dresses” that were reminiscent of an older Givenchy, à la Audrey Hepburn, reinterpreted for this generation.
Leopard and clover prints were lifted from the archive and given modern treatment on sheer tops, flowy dresses with accentuated shoulder details and side pleats that balance feminine sweetness with a tough twist.
There are plenty examples of such power play in the spring-summer looks: a mint silk blouse matched with red metallic cropped leather trousers; printed silk pleat dress topped with a panelled denim vest. The silhouettes put focus on exaggerated shoulders and skinny tailoring.
Waight Keller, who’s known for her accessories at previous houses, opted for mini soft pouches with brass chains that can be cinched to the belt as belt bags, as well as pointy toed knee boots with contrasting exotic leather accents for Givenchy’s coming season.
Her menswear collection focuses on skinny tailoring accentuated with colour blocking and prints.
Through Waight Keller adds “transformation and seduction” to Givenchy’s new chapter, perhaps (as the blank pages in the show notes hinted) she’s left much more to say in the chapters to come.
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