Men’s tailoring has always been the bedrock of Clare Waight Keller’s coed vision for Givenchy. In her debut last fall, she said her focus on sharp shoulders was directly derived from the work of founder Hubert de Givenchy.
For her first resort collection since taking over the creative direction of the label, the designer also delved into a lesser-known part of Givenchy’s heritage: a sportswear line that fed into a selection of looks infused with athletic ease.
“He actually did a sports line at the beginning of the Eighties — Givenchy Sport — and it was kind of interesting, because there, he really used a lot of the graphic designs and these sort of V-shapes,” she explained. “I thought it was interesting to mix that back into the more sophisticated tailoring part.”
Men’s logo track pants, or second-skin tops in technical fabrics, were overt nods to the athleisure trend that has swept through to high-end brands. It translated more subtly in the women’s looks, which included roomy separates in paper-thin glossy leather, done in subtle hues like forest green and Prussian blue.
The Eighties influence was overt with items like cowl-neck tops with batwing sleeves, or a burgundy jersey zip-up jacket with a black V-shaped panel at the front and back. Triangular details abounded, from the V-shaped cutouts on stirrup pants to the white rubber heels on a new pointy pump design.
That crisp line extended through to the cut of the clothes, which channeled a Japanese influence with items such as a padded black nylon trenchcoat or a black glazed silk faille column dress with a judo-style leather belt.
“There’s almost like this flattened-out effect in terms of pattern-cutting, in the same sense that kimonos look beautiful flat as well as they do on the body, and there was something quite interesting about using those graphic cuts and the graphic lines, especially on some of the outerwear,” the designer said.
Bold contrast effects recalled the Chinese yin and yang symbol: a wide white diagonal stripe ran like a sash across a dark floral-printed dress, while a cocktail dress was split right down the middle, with one half black, one half white, down to the mismatched slouchy boots.
If some of those looks risk coming across as gimmicky, the evening outfits were pure pared-back elegance. A black dress with chiffon cape sleeves and an embroidered crystal neckline managed to be both dramatic and restrained, while a pleated lamé gown played on airbrushed color gradients that brought to mind the stunning Givenchy outfit worn by Cate Blanchett at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
It highlighted an interesting duality that began to emerge with Waight Keller’s couture debut in January: while her precise approach channels a more quiet confidence for day, it makes for some truly striking occasionwear, making her increasingly a force to be reckoned with on the red carpet.