At the Palais de Justice de Paris, the Givenchy show was once again a broadcast of Berlin inspiration. The previous season had seen Clare Waight Keller inspired by the B-Movie Lust and Sound in West-Berlin and its dark, eerie club-night aesthetic. For S/S 19, there was a similar atmosphere. The Berlin influence had certainly returned, but despite the strobe lighting and smoke-machine, this collection felt much more culture than club-kid.
Keller had been looking to the hauntingly handsome writer Annemarie Schwarzenbach, who was known for her androgynous beauty. She was an intrepid explorer, had moved to Berlin from Switzerland for a hedonistic lifestyle and boldly dressed in menswear at a time when such behaviour was rather frowned upon. No frowning here, Keller had absorbed Schwarzenbach’s fervour and imbued a mirroring and merging of gender into the collection with beautiful, albeit mixed, results.
While the menswear remained relatively masculine, with trim suiting and belted waist, the womenswear was much more of a cross-pollination of gender characteristics. Models were styled with Schwarzenbach’s renowned pixie crop and sported new tailoring created by the house’s couture atelier. Shoulders were smaller but sharper, lines and silhouettes snapped to attention and eyes were drawn to collarbone with a bolero-style jacket, suit slung over the shoulder and triangular patterning across the chest.
Historically infused, army-like shapes added to the slightly utilitarian ambience, in particular, the pocket-laden pantaloons. This, combined with the almost Balenciaga-esque purples, beiges and heavy crystal fringing, was a gratifying amalgam. Flowing thirties-inspired asymmetric dresses were updated with strong fan-like accents that covered the breast - another challenge of the gender codes - and the new WHIP bag, tucked under the arm with logo front-facing, was a beacon of modernity amidst the period-inspired pieces. While not as gender fluid as one had hoped after reading the show notes, this was indubitably chic - it's nothing but up for Keller.