Givenchy stepped into a new era today as Clare Waight Keller presented her first collection as creative director following Riccardo Tisci’s departure. In his twelve years at Givenchy, Tisci was responsible for a complete creative renaissance, which called for a deviation from the house’s former direction, which was still largely rooted in Hubert de Givenchy’s conception of style. Under Tisci, Givenchy went from being the pinnacle of understated elegance to a vampy powerhouse. From 2005 to February 2017, Givenchy was defined by a sophisticated lavishness that was born from injecting Givenchy’s classic silhouettes and designs with a heavy dose of sex appeal and extravagance. As a label, Givenchy became synonymous with a certain dark, brooding style, a world away from Hubert’s Givenchy.
In hiring Waight Keller, Givenchy executives anticipated a sizeable shift from Tisci’s penchant for opulence. In an interview with the New York Times, Phillipe Fortunato, Givenchy’s chief executive stated that he was “very excited to see Clare bring her singular sense of elegance and modernity to Givenchy,” and also hinted at a possible return to designs more aligned with Hubert de Givenchy’s original vision.
If this reconciliation with the past was Fortunato’s intention, then Waight Keller definitely took a step in the right direction with Givenchy’s Spring 2018 collection. As guests walked into Paris’s Palais de Justice through an ironwork entrance modelled after Givenchy’s original headquarters, the message could not have been clearer.
The collection, comprised of seventy women’s and men’s looks, the line took a softer approach to Givenchy’s elegance. Featuring everything from dresses with full tulle collars to striped cotton shirts, the line was a perfect melange of the house’s developed and defining chic and Waight Keller’s nonchalant design sensibility. There were elements, such as the pleated silk skirting, that were clearly drawn from Waight Keller’s work at Chloé, but recontextualized in their pairing with boxy blazers, giving them the signature Givenchy edge seen in the Tisci era while simultaneous restoring the label with Hubert de Givenchy’s aura of feminine subtlety.
As for the men’s looks, Waight Keller aired away from the streetwear looks, currently dominating menswear, instead favouring more traditional suits and James Dean style leather and denim. In its entirety, Spring 2018 paid homage to Givenchy’s past, while also elucidating Waight Keller’s unique role in bringing the house into a new and exciting chapter.