Riccardo Tisci's departure from Givenchy, where he spent 12 years as creative director and designed many-a memorable Kardashian outfit, marked the end of an era. As soon as the news broke, the speculation (of course) began as to who would replace him. The fan-favourite (and highly-speculated) rumour was that Off-White designer Virgil Abloh would take over and join the LVMH family. Instead, the luxury conglomerate went with a seasoned player of the Paris Fashion Week lineup: Clare Waight Keller, most recently of Chloé, is set to take over the house, Business of Fashion reports.
The move was teased out on Givenchy's official Instagram account, through three posts: a portrait of founder Hubert de Givenchy, shot by Victor Skrebenski with the year 1952 (65 years ago, the year the brand was founded); a quote reading "true elegance comes with a natural gesture, an attitude in simplicity"; and a portrait of Waight Keller shot by Steven Meisel with the year 2017. The designer, meanwhile, simply changed her bio on Instagram.
While she has stints at Calvin Klein, Gucci, and Pringle of Scotland on her CV, this'll be her first time designing haute couture. Overseeing all creative duties, from women's and men's ready-to-wear to accessories and haute couture, she will begin her role on May 2nd. This is the second time a woman has been appointed head of an LVMH-owned brand, and the first time a woman has been named head designer at Givenchy. Does this signal the beginning of a modernity at brands that have traditionally appointed men? Christian Dior's naming of Maria Grazia Chiuri certainly suggests so.
Following her position as Head Designer under Tom Ford at Gucci, and her revival of heritage brand Pringle of Scotland from 2005, Waight Keller was Creative Director of Parisian house Chloe since May 2011, where she modernised the brand's soft and whimsical 1970s and aesthetic. "Chloe speaks to me on so many levels", Waight Keller is quoted saying on the brand's official site, "I love the free-spirited, effortless attitude of the Chloe girl."
Perhaps the artistic director will pay homage to the original elegance of the brand, and bring this femininity to Givenchy. This would be a taking it in a markedly different direction from Riccardo Tisci's dark, daring designs, which saw him transform the brand from esteemed classic to cult cool. Taking over from a predecessor who spent 12 years shaping the brand with such an extreme look, it seems almost a requirement for Waight Keller to make a radical change in order to pave her own way.
Historically, Givenchy's aesthetic is steeped in architecturally refined and graceful designs. Founder and couturier Hubert, who stepped down in 1995, had an incredibly close relationship with Audrey Hepburn, winning an Oscar for her costume design. That delicate, graceful early aesthetic defined the brand until Tisci created a buzz that both celebrity names and social media stars endorsed.
Indeed, their circle of celebrity muses is different: the front row at Chloé tends to be filled with French and American actresses, directors, and overall creative types (think Clémence Poésy, Loulou Robert, Solange Knowles), rather than the mega-watt names Givenchy attracted during Tisci's time, like many members of the Kardashian-Jenner clan, Naomi Campbell, and, most recently, Paris Jackson.
Bernard Arnault, chairman of parent group LVMH said of Waight Keller's appointment, "I believe her widespread expertise and vision will allow Givenchy to enter the next phase of its unique path." Unique path indeed - this is an exciting time. No matter which direction Waight Keller takes the design house in, we're waiting with baited breath to see how her vision unfolds.