Fall 2018 Haute Couture: Givenchy

In the Givenchy Couture Fall 2018 program notes, designer Clare Waight Keller noted that, for fall, she “glimpses beyond the tangible toward a profound and sparking fantasia.” Keller inherited the maison of Givenchy last year, after a long line of male designers, such as Riccardo Tisci, John Galliano and Alexander McQueen. As an homage to Hubert de Givenchy, who passed away earlier this year, she revisited the house archives and delivered profundity in a multifaceted vision of women. Waight Keller refuses to let a woman’s strength fall prey to romance, yet she delights in allowing the two to coexist. She studied the archives and kept the silhouettes and architectural shapes close to Givenchy’s unparalleled work. Being the first creative director at the house to honor his legacy, Waight Keller was equally humble and brave. “Having met him, and the fact that he passed three months ago, he felt very present in my mind; his legacy felt like something that needed to be celebrated,” she said backstage. “Everybody knows his work with Audrey. But less so the capes, the peekaboos, the architecture, the flou. . . . It was a wonderful trip for me to discover it and reinterpret it my way.”

Known for his life-long friendship with Audrey Hepburn, his muse, Monsieur Givenchy designed some of the most iconic looks of the past century, such as the little black dress from the Breakfast at Tiffany’s and perfectly structured, tailored silhouettes. However, Waight Keller did not design mere reproductions. The designer first changed the fabrics, since half a century ago materials were a lot stiffer and heavier than today’s. She then used the archival photographs of models in frocks from the ’50s through the ’70’s and photographs of Hepburn, and designed an homage to elegance and refinement. Although she relied on the recognizable silhouettes, she reinvented the purity of their lines.

My personal favorite piece of the collection is “Intriganté”, look number eight, the all black architectural caplet, tied just below the shoulders with matching skirt and thigh-high boots. It was a real stand out piece, and an absolute shock to witness Clare really push her bohemian design aesthetic to new limits. She pushed herself forward whilst exploring the past, juxtaposed with the sort of unknown silvery futurism, all conjured up with different textures, shapes, classic embroideries and drapes— all of the elements that made Hubert de Givenchy one of the most sophisticated designers of the 20th century. As if all of this was not enough, the soundtrack included “Moon river” in Hepburn’s interpretation. After the show finale, as a tribute to Monsieur Givenchy himself, Waight Keller invited the atelier members to join her for a bow. “He believed in elegance, he believed in chic”, and Waight Keller has both in spades.

Photo credit: Vogue