French New Wave film posters. Actress Anouk Aimée’s stark Sixties black-and-white beauty shots. Artwork by Ketty La Rocca and Helena Almeida, who used their own bodies as a medium. Hubert de Givenchy’s mid-century designs. These are the few things on Clare Waight Keller’s mood board for her fall Givenchy collection.
All of it informed a new graphic glamour pinging more off the designer’s recent couture outings then the upcycled denim and Nineties-inflected sportswear ready-to-wear for spring.
Working in a stark palette of black, red and white, with dots, stripes and apostrophe patterns (but no florals this time), the designer worked a feminine touch into assertive shapes, starting with a statement in all-black that came out like gangbusters — a slim knit sweater, diagonally slit skirt and cloaking hat that looked Angelina Jolie (or perhaps second-act Meghan Markle) movie-star chic.
The shoulder was a focal point of the collection, but with soft, full sleeves, a black double-breasted jacket with gently flared trousers became a covetable soft power suit. A sweeping red overcoat fastened with decorative gold pin, and a rich-looking black knit cape dress conveyed a similar womanly authority, accented by elegant gloves worn under bracelet sleeves, with strappy, heeled sandals and red lips, evoking the season’s dressed-up glamour.
Color and print-blocked dresses introduced fluidity to the story, gently draped around the body, and anchored by strong sculptural leather belts. The one in deep plum and black with a single-rounded long sleeve and deep neckline had serious sex appeal, but in collaged drips and dots they felt a bit blah.
Eveningwear was a tactile exploration of feathers and raffia, with a bit of shape and volume play but not enough to lift spirits. After last season’s collection, so connected to Waight Keller’s personal history of how she dressed in the Nineties in New York, this felt a bit clunky and dispassionate.