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.