Clare Waight Keller Announced as New Artistic Director at Givenchy

The 45-year-old is the first female designer at the storied French fashion house

Clare Waight Keller. Picture / Steven Meisel.

She officially left her role as creative director of Chloe after six years in January, and today in Paris comes the announcement that Clare Waight Keller will take on the artistic director role at Givenchy, following the resignation of predecessor Riccardo Tisci in February.

The swift appointment is significant for Givenchy, which has never had a female at its helm in its 65-year history. Clare's appointment makes her the second female designer at LVMH’s prestigious stable of couture houses following Maria-Grazia Chiuri’s appointment at Dior in June last year. Other notable designers who have led Givenchy include John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Julian McDonald, who, like Clare, are also British. 

Better known for staying true to Chloe’s brand of distinctive femininity – think 70s-inspired gauzy dresses and soft romantic separates, Clare’s aesthetic will no doubt be a complete contrast to the high-octane, romantic-gothicism favoured by Riccardo. Her commercial success with Chloe’s popular handbags and accessories category will be welcome at Givenchy, which has really had only one hit bag, ‘The Nightingale’, released in 2006.

Clare's debut for Chloe, Spring/Summer 2012. Pictures / Supplied.

Announcing the appointment on its Instagram account (@GivenchyOfficial), the post features a black and white portrait of Clare taken by fashion photographer Steven Meisel and a quote: “True elegance comes with a natural gesture, an attitude in simplicity.”

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While Riccardo’s sexy brand of glitz, goth and glamour was reinforced by his love of celebrity culture and hip-hop music (he’s dressed Kanye West and Kim Kardashian on numerous high-profile occasions, including Kim’s wedding dress, and the brand was even name-checked in Beyonce’s 2016 hit Formation), Clare’s approach is expected to be less flashy, and perhaps a return to some of the cleaner lines and shapes popularised by the house in the 60s, favoured by the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Wallis Simpson and Jackie Kennedy.

Left: Carey Grant and Audrey Hepburn dressed in Givenchy in Charade (1963). Right: Hubert de Givenchy. Pictures / Supplied/ @GivenchyOfficial.

In a statement to The Business of Fashion, chairman and CEO of the LVMH group Bernard Arnault says, "I believe her widespread expertise and vision will allow Givenchy to enter the next phase of its unique path. I am very much looking forward to her contribution to the maison’s continued success."

Clare will report to Givenchy CEO Philippe Fortunato, who added in the official statement, "I am excited to see Clare bring her singular sense of elegance and modernity to Givenchy".

She starts officially on May 2, and her first collection for Givenchy will debut on the ready-to-wear schedule in Paris in October for Spring/Summer 2018. 

Five things to know about Clare Waight Keller

  1. She’s a graduate of the Royal College of Art in London.
  2. She has lent design skills to Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford for Gucci and Pringle of Scotland.
  3. She was named creative director of Chloe in May 2011, replacing Hannah MacGibbon.Her replacement at Chloe announced last month is Natacha Ramsay-Levi, previously second in command to Nicholas Ghesquiere at Louis Vuitton.
  4. In 2007 the designer won an award for Scottish Cashmere Designer of the Year at the Scottish Fashion Awards.
  5. She lives in London and holidays in Cornwall.

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