Clare Waight Keller announced on Friday that she’d be stepping down as the artistic director of Givenchy, after three years at the helm of the French fashion house.
When Waight Keller was appointed to the position in March of 2017, she became the first-ever female artistic director in the brand’s 68-year history, taking the reins from Riccardo Tisci, who had served as creative director for twelve years. Following Tisci’s more contemporary, Kardashian-inspired design approach, many speculated that Waight Keller would return the brand to its roots as the traditional and classically charming label that Hubert de Givenchy founded in 1952 with Audrey Hepburn as his muse.
Waight Keller, who served as the creative director of Chloé for six years prior to taking the job at Givenchy, was indeed quick to make changes. Notably, she reintroduced couture to the brand, presenting five stunning couture collections. Waight Keller also brought back menswear to the brand, and designed the long-awaited royal wedding dress for the (then) Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle. Markle went on to award the designer with the British Designer of the Year Womenswear Award in 2018. In her speech, she described Waight Keller’s understanding of the personal and emotional connection that women have with their clothing. Markle said the designer’s focus on “supporting and empowering each other, especially as women” is what drew her to ask Waight Keller to design for her in the first place.
In total, she designed ten collections per year for Givenchy. Her fall ‘20 ready-to-wear collection, which was presented just a few short months ago during Paris Fashion Week, will be her last, The New York Times reports.
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From the heart ♥️ After three truly wonderful years, the time has come to close my chapter at Givenchy. As the first woman to be the Artistic Director of this legendary Maison, I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to cherish its legacy and bring it new life. Focusing on a world based on Haute Couture has been one of the highlights of my professional journey. I have shared so many incredible moments with the brilliant Givenchy ateliers and design teams : your exceptional talent and dedication will forever remain in my memories. My heartfelt thanks go out to each of the unsung heroes and heroines behind the scenes, for their contribution from product to communications and retail, and every global team member, partner and supplier in between. Without all of you, I could not have brought my vision for Givenchy to life in such a beautiful way. I am now looking forward to embarking on the next episode. Love and creativity remain central to what I do, and who I am, as does a heartfelt belief in kindness, and the courage to be true to your art. See you soon, and most importantly, stay safe ❤️ Love, Clare
In an emotional statement made on her Instagram, Waight Keller wrote, “As the first woman to be the Artistic Director of this legendary Maison, I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to cherish its legacy and bring it new life.” Continuing, she thanked the “unsung heroes and heroines behind the scenes, for their contribution from product to communications and retail, and every global team member, partner and supplier in between,” and shared her excitement for what’s to come, the details of which we’ve yet to hear. “Love and creativity remain central to what I do, and who I am, as does a heartfelt belief in kindness, and the courage to be true to your art,” she wrote.
In the days following her announcement, Waight Keller has posted a number of lengthy Instagram posts, each combined with behind-the-scenes photos and videos from her time at the brand. Included in the mix are images taken on the Left Bank in Paris after the brand’s spring ‘20 couture show, and videos of Kaia Gerber modelling the designer’s favourite feathered frock from the fall ‘19 couture collection during a fitting. She also shared some of the many red carpet moments from her tenure, including photos of Gal Gadot (who wore Givenchy to the Oscars in 2020), Cate Blanchett, and Julianne Moore.
Today, the designer posted an ode to menswear, describing her relationship with the genre and why it was so important for her to introduce to Givenchy. “Menswear has been part of my vocabulary since the beginning when I first started working in fashion,” she writes. “The difference for me at Givenchy was the ability to launch the first ever Men’s Couture, to indulge the extraordinary embroidery techniques with the rigours of tailoring brought a new exuberance to the silhouette and a whole new client to the house and the Red Carpet.” The post includes campaign images, backstage access to shows, and videos from fittings.
In a press release, the chairman and CEO of LVMH Sidney Toledano said, “I want to warmly thank Clare Waight Keller for her contribution to Givenchy’s latest chapter. Under her creative leadership, and in great collaboration with its ateliers and teams, the maison reconnected with the founding values of Hubert de Givenchy and his innate sense of elegance. I wish Clare all the best in her future endeavors.”
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