Givenchy in Paris: Waight Keller embraces purity


Givenchy Givenchy in Paris: Waight Keller embraces purity

For her third haute couture show, Clare Waight Keller went ultramodern with latex and a white shell of a catwalk

Backpacks edged with angel wings were among the looks on the stripped-back catwalk at Givenchy. Photograph: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images

Haute couture is a real-life industry based on making fairytale dresses. Clare Waight Keller’s credentials in the fairytale dress category were proved beyond doubt on 19 May last year, when the Givenchy wedding gown she designed for Meghan Markle was an instant fashion hit.

Having aced that test, Waight Keller now gets to have some fun. On Tuesday in Paris, in her third haute couture show, she collaborated with Atsuko Kudo, the London-based latex specialist who made Beyonce’s tour costumes, on liquid-shine leggings which were worn under sheer lace dresses in place of the more conventional petticoats. And instead of the exquisite opera clutches that are haute couture’s go-to bag shape, Waight Keller accessorised the collection with giant squishy backpacks edged with angel wings.

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A model with a latex arm piece, as part of the Givenchy collaboration with Atsuko Kudo. Photograph: WWD/Rex/Shutterstock

“I wanted to clean the house,” the designer said backstage of her minimal white box show set. Paris’ Museum of Modern Art is closed between exhibitions, enabling the Givenchy team to install a clean white shell of polished catwalk, low benches and symmetrical columns in which every wire was boxed out of sight. This being haute couture, even a clean slate is high maintenance: it took four months to design and five days to install, a set designed to look like an empty room.

Last July’s couture outing, held in a formal garden, was an homage to the house founder, Hubert de Givenchy, who died in March 2018. “This time, I wanted the opposite,” Waight Keller said backstage after the show. “After the homage last season I wanted this collection to be as modern as possible. I wanted absolute purity: tailoring, technique, clean lines and saturated colour.”

First on to the catwalk was a tuxedo jacket with one exposed white lapel, a shark fin slice of pure white satin, worn with latex trousers. (“Latex is very couture, because it’s the most bespoke fabric you can get, in terms of a second skin fit,” said the designer after the show.) Next was a sleeveless black crepe blazer with a floor-length hot pink skirt which flicked side to side behind its wearer, like a crocodile’s tail.


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