Clare Waight Keller, previously of Chloé and Pringle, and now Creative Director at Givenchy, is the first female to head up this French fashion house. With Maria Grazia Chiuri now at Christian Dior, the LVMH group - and owner of both these houses - has placed women in two creative director positions that have only ever been filled by men. Waight Keller's debut collection for Givenchy was shown in the rather official (yet super grand) locale of the Palais de Justice on the Îsle de Cité. It was a Sunday morning spot rather than a nighttime evening affair, which was more akin to Riccardo Tisci's spirit for the house. There was a rumour going around beforehand that she was taking it dark and gothic. Didn't Riccardo Tisci already do that? Waight Keller didn't totally go with that vibe, but the right amount of vamp was present.
This collection felt more like an orchestrated equation in desirability and commerciality than vision. It will sell really well - but what happens next? More of this? Everything beautiful and cool was here - but a lot of it had been seen before. The rockabilly-inspired wardrobe of leather jackets and tailoring meant a distinct whiff of Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent was already being noted. Then the lip print arrived on men's shirts - a womenswear print Slimane used over and over in recent years at Saint Laurent. Even if one wanted to use this print, for the sake of debuting a unique voice and vision with integrity, it might be advisable to veto such an idea during the design stage. It will sell though, so is that all that matters? More desirable than current Saint Laurent, maybe the house is hoping to pick up some of Hedi's old fans. Waight Keller did a good job of assimilating some of Hubert Givenchy's codes, prints and colours into the collection - and her work at Chloé was brand right and really rather magical. The colour palette here built on the foundation of Hubert's - navy, black and white with pops of vermillion red and mint. A bold shoulder, sharp lines, a Breton stripe and bows were also all inspired by the archive.
With Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Riccardo Tisci's shoes to fill, Waight Keller is walking in the footsteps of three of the most important designers in modern history. I'd love to see Waight Keller rift of McQueen's time there a little - although a turbulent time for him there, it would be postmodern wicked for a new designer to show allegiance to an ex-designer. The handwritten note was a lovely touch from the designer. I think I saw the word 'physics' written in this letter - but it didn't appear again in the show notes. Something to do with 'transformation'. This wasn't quite a transformation, nor was it a concept. It was a collection of retail hits. Hopefully once Clare Waight Keller gets a chance to prove she can sell - which I'm sure she will - she can start to stretch her legs. The age of the fashion brand, sigh.