Big Romance. Givenchy Couture SS20

Clare Waight Keller’s spring-summer 2020 haute couture collection for Givenchy was rooted in her memories of visiting the garden rooms planted at Sissinghurst Castle by Vita Sackville-West and by reading the passionate love letters between Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf. “It’s one of the most romantic places in England,” Waight Keller said. “I’m quite obsessed by the place.” Famously it was Woolf’s involvement with Sackville-West and dreaming through the Elizabethan history of the Sackville-West family house that inspired Woolf to write her time- and gender-traversing novel Orlando. Coming back to the collection: Waight Keller once again proved her strengths in tailoring. But what truly stunned the audience were the summer-garden colors and swirling 3D-petal forms of dresses. For the designer, it was “my own love letter to Hubert de Givenchy because I went into the archive for this collection and looked into the history of the house from the very beginning.” Photographs of the pristine flower-lace gowns he made in the era he designed for Audrey Hepburn were pinned to her inspiration board. Givenchy, as it happens, was dedicated to garden design too. The outside edges of the jacket of a neat black pantsuit were implanted with a halo of gypsophila embroidery – this one looked incredible. There was a bit of “couture” casual: multilayered tulle petal-pink skirt overlaid with Chantilly lace was worn with a sheer black T-shirt. Waight Keller finished up her show by sending out Kaia Gerber as the ultimate fantasy bride in an off-the-shoulder cut-lace white chemise and umbrella hat that swooped back over the shoulders, amplifying the volume of the entire look.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Wise Layering. Givenchy Pre-Fall 2020

Utility, tailoring, glamour, chic – Clare Waight Keller‘s pre-fall 2020 collection for Givenchy has it all. One of Waight Keller’s strengths has always been her woman’s understanding of “lived” fashion – the wisdom accumulated by a designer who has to make sense of her own wardrobe, 24/7. Endless round of packing, traveling, and quick changes of clothes is familiar to every woman who has a professional life (and not only). In this collection, she’s taken an intelligent approach to tackling the silliness of one-wear evening dressing by suggesting, for example, how a very French, Givenchy-esque black dress with gold buttons on one shoulder can be worn over a pair of tuxedo pants. Or again, how those same trousers can go under a short, strapless tailored dress to create a chic tunic look. Other than the “smartness” behind the line-up, the designer took some first steps towards an enviroinment-focused approach for Givenchy. The collection uses permeable fabrics, some of which are organic and recycled. Sustainability is “very much top of mind” for her. One of the ways she’s tackling the issue is by aiming to build more versatility and longevity into her collections. “We need to wear our clothes for longer. It’s the throwaway aspect [of fashion] which is destructive. So the thought process, particularly in women’s, is to have a quieter sense of permanence. And I like the idea that so many of the pieces can be relayered.” In case of this one particular collection, the mission is well completed.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

1990s. Givenchy SS20

Givenchy‘s Clare Waight Keller tries new things, leaving behind her past aesthetic of flou dresses and flowing, feminine silhouettes. This English designer moved to New York in 1993 for a job at Calvin Klein. At the time, Kate Moss was on the runways wearing slip dresses and streamlined black tailoring, and studio assistants wore Birkenstocks. Helmut Lang was the city’s growing obsession. “When I arrived in New York, I was very much a tomboy, and there was this raw, boyish energy,” Waight Keller said backstage of her spring-summer 2020 line-up. Givenchy being a French house, she’s set up her new collection as a conversation between the minimalist New York she remembers circa ’93 and the much more exuberant Paris she visited at the time, which was still recovering from the couture excesses of the ’80s. Her new season line-up is good enough to exist without that background: slim jackets paired with Bermuda-length shorts; denim, from short shorts to holey jeans to a V-neck dress made from two different colored washes (the show notes described the jeans’ ’90s vintage upcycled fabric “pointing to a conscious future”); turtleneck blouses in shades of curcuma and lilac; beige leathers used in tank-tops, coat-dresses and maxi-skirts. Apart for florals, this was an unexpectedly minimalist version of Waight Keller. As always with Claire, I’m not sure what exactly her distinct Givenchy look is (the collection’s appeal is mainly caused by Suzanne Koller’s eternally chic styling). Still, it’s not bad.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Best Looks from AW19 Couture…

The library lounge venue at Chanel and models walking to Portishead’s forever intriguing ‘Glory Box’…

While in overall the autumn-winter 2019 haute couture had more mehs (Daniel Roseberry’s overcharged debut at Schiaparelli, the chaos at Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Dior…) than yeahs, I still managed to find a few looks that really, really won it. And, of course Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino utterly stole my heart, but on that in a separate post. So, here are the three most gorgeous outfits I took notice of this season (again, except for Valentinoooo!).

This Viktor & Rolf look is like a Marc Chagall painting, in all of its aspects: from the paint-like texture of the felt material to the witchy, oneiric aura surrounding it. I call this art-and-coven couture.

Virginie Viard‘s debut couture collection at Chanel first felt like a snooze to me. But then I grasped its point: the beauty in regal. It’s just so rare in today’s fashion. The look worn by Sara Grace Wallerstedt – a pleated, high-collar, sleeveless shirt and a mustard skirt – is pure elegance.

With Clare Waight Keller, one season is a miss, another is a success. The autumn-winter 2019 couture outing was her best one yet. She has let some drama to Givenchy. The velvet, black dress with a lowered crinoline is so refined and sharp. So chic, yet in a way… disturbing? That’s the spirit of noblesse radicale.

All collages by Edward Kanarecki.

Always On The Go. Givenchy Resort 2020

For Givenchy‘s resort 2020, Clare Waight Keller digged into the idea of a wardrobe that’s suited for travelling – from daily commuting to long distance voyages. Or, for people like Clare, who travel from London to Paris on a weekly basis, occasionally do shows in Florence (Pitti Uomo is approaching and Givenchy is this year’s guests), dress celebrities for the Met Gala in New York and check on the brand’s ambassadors in Cannes. That’s a busy schedule, and the wardrobe should be ready for anything. “What I’ve seen so much around me, and with my colleagues and friends, are the challenges of dress today when people travel so much,” she says, then laughs, pointing to one of her Resort images of a girl who has a lanyard phone pouch around her neck and a tote in one hand. “The two-bag situation. That is exactly how my life is!” For women, Waight Keller did faux-fur coats in pink and leopard print, as well as masculine coats with military buttons and sharp shape, a beige jumpsuit perfect for entire week and some really, really gorgeous eveningwear which included intriguing lace work. I somehow missed consistency in all that, but still, it’s a wardrobe of staples, ready for very different occasions. Menswear was stronger in this collection, maybe due to the model casting (that blond hair makes anything look good), maybe because of the Givenchy motorcycle helmet which stole the spotlight. Or, it was all because of this fluidity between sportiness and tailoring. A motocross sweatshirt over a shirt and tie, a green 70s suit styled with sneakers, major outerwear put together with over-sized denim pants. There’s something very Riccardo-Tisci-era Givenchy about it, but done without overhyped prints.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.