Clare Waight Keller marked her return to the Paris men’s wear calendar with a presentation at the brand’s historic haute couture atelier on Avenue George V, where guests entered a salon fragrant with the scent of the fresh gypsophila that covered sections of the parquet floor.
The plant, also known as baby’s-breath, provided a fitting backdrop for her spray of tonal suits, amped-up outerwear and sleek after-dark ensembles.
Taking on the role of emcee, Waight Keller explained that the 17 looks on show, culled from the fall collection, were a taster for a bigger push into the category. Having stuck to a coed format since arriving at the French house in 2017, she plans to stage a separate catwalk display for men later this year.
“There’s a very different level of men’s wear that can come out of Givenchy than one I would have imagined coming in,” she said.
The designer’s experience dressing celebrities — including Bradley Cooper, Idris Elba, Rami Malek and Harry Styles — inspired some of the more flamboyant offerings, such as a white suit jacket glimmering with transparent sequins, or a jacket in a traditional sartorial check pattern embroidered with cream leopard spots.
“It’s actually come through a lot of the work we’ve been doing on couture and the red carpet with men’s wear: That’s really, really pushed a lot of demand in the stores for this type of elevated product, and it’s really become a very attractive part of our business,” she explained.
Some of her previous women’s designs — balloon-cut pants from the spring collection, or a billowing nylon trenchcoat from the pre-fall lineup — also worked their way into the looks.
Waight Keller said she was inspired by the eclectic style of her male friends in New York in the Nineties, who would pull together elegant outfits on a shoestring: think Seventies-inspired suits with structured shoulders, nipped-in waists and elongated flared pants, which were especially cool in saturated shades of red and electric blue.
Even her outerwear was served with a polished twist: a black belted trenchcoat gave off an iridescent sheen, while an oversize Windbreaker in fuchsia-colored technical fabric shimmered like silk moiré. Waight Keller believes that after the streetwear tsunami, men are ready to dress up once again.
“Rooted in a French couture house, I feel that there is a very elevated elegance that I think Givenchy really stands for now,” she said. “A piece of tailoring can be as strong as something quite sporty, and the mix of it is really the key of the story here.”
It’s not just dandies who have adopted her men’s designs. Having created Meghan Markle’s wedding dress, Waight Keller is now dressing Prince Harry. Don’t be surprised if he starts to steal some of his wife’s limelight.