Clare Waight Keller, the Givenchy stylist who grabbed the global fashion spotlight by designing Meghan Markle’s wedding dress, paid homage to the storied house’s late founder in her latest haute couture collection.
On the first day of Paris couture week, the Givenchy show, held in the gardens of the National Archives in the city’s Marais district, was shrouded in mystery and old-school Hollywood glamour.
It was Keller’s first show since the house’s founder Hubert de Givenchy died in March at the age of 91.
To the sound of Givenchy’s muse Audrey Hepburn singing Moon River, the models strutted down a catwalk that shimmered like a river.
Draped dresses, voluminous jewels, and feathers dotted the collection – 47-year-old Waight Keller’s second haute couture offering since she succeeded Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy in March 2017, soon after leaving rival label Chloe after six years at the helm.
The colour palette was essentially black and white. Regal capes abounded – sometimes short, sometimes sweeping, sometimes hooded.
Gem-coloured sequins covered some dresses, evoking mermaid scales. Even the masculine silhouettes also sparkled with sequins.
The British artistic director created the boatnecked, sculpted dress that Markle wore for her wedding to Prince Harry on May 19, featuring a five-metre (16-foot) train embroidered with flowers from all 53 Commonwealth countries.
Markle also chose Givenchy for her first official engagement on June 14 alongside Queen Elizabeth, sporting a beige wool crepe dress with a small cape.
The official Haute Couture programme included 35 shows with collections from Belgium, China, France, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Morocco, The Netherlands, Russia and the United States.
Unlike ready-to-wear shows, haute couture roll-outs in January and July are a solely Parisian affair.
The prestigious “haute couture” label is accorded by the French industry ministry to acknowledge traditional craftsmanship in hand-sewn, custom-made garments using strict criteria.
The catwalk displays of some of the world’s most expensive clothes were followed on Thursday by high-end jewellery collections by Anna Hu, Bulgari, Chanel, Chopard, De Beers, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Mikimoto.
Off the official programme, fashionistas last Sunday were treated to a show of exclusive creations by Sonia Rykiel, the fashion house founded by the influential French designer who died in 2016.
Although the house develops ready-to-wear lines, it worked up handmade, limited-edition items to mark its 50th anniversary for the show in the elegant courtyard of the Ecole des Beaux Arts.
Artistic director Julie de Libran paid homage to some of the label’s classics, with trademark mesh, black contrasted with bright colours, and lots of sequins and embroidery.
See-through black tulle skirts were paired with big coats or wool pullovers, while a wedding dress was worn with jeans.
The pioneering Rykiel was a fixture in the industry for half a century, buoyed by the Swinging Sixties craze in London and the emerging feminist movement across the globe.